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Droste House 
3602 Wells St. 
Windsor, Ontario 

.STETxY OF THE GOOC N9C1T9 

FOREST AVENUE AND SCOTIA fTRIjir 
WEST KILDONAN, 




SELECTED LETTERS OF 
ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 



Jlihil bstat. 

F. THOMAS BERGH, O.S.B., 

CENSOR DEPUTATUS, 

Imprimatur. 

EDM. CAN. SURMONT, 

VICARIUS GENERALIS. 



WESTMONASTERII, 

Die 6 NovwtMs, 191? 




ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL. 

(Foundress of the Order of the Visitation.) 



SELECTED LETTERS OF 

SAINT JANE FRANCES 

DE CHANTAL 



TRANSLATED BY 

THE SISTERS OF THE VISITATION 

HARROW 



WITH A PREFACE BY 
HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL BOURNE 

ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER 



R. & T. WASHBOURNE, LTD. 

PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON 
AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW 

All rights reseived IQl8 



PREFACE 

WE are all apt so to idealise the Saints whom we 
love to study and honour, and strive to imitate, that 
we are in danger of forgetting that they possessed 
a human nature like our own, subject to many trials, 
weaknesses and frailties. They had to struggle as 
we have to struggle. The only difference is that 
their constancy and perseverance were greater far 
than ours. 

Biographers are often responsible for the false 
tendency to which we allude. They like to give us 
the finished portrait of the Saints, and only too often 
they omit in great part the details of the long and 
weary toil that went to make the picture which they 
delight to paint. 

In the case of some of the Saints we are able to 
come nearer to the reality by reading the letters 
which have been preserved, in which in their own 
handwriting they have set down, without thought 
of those who in later days might read their words, 
the details of their daily life and struggle. Thus in 



vi PREFACE 



the few selected Letters of the holy foundress of the 
Visitation which are now being published in an 
English translation we get glimpses of her real 
character and spiritual growth which may be more 
helpful to us than many pages of formal biography. 
In one place she excuses the brevity of a letter 
because she is " feeling the cold to-day and pressed 
for time/ In another she tells a Sister, " do every 
thing to get well, for it is only your nerves. " Nerves 
are evidently not a new malady nor a lately devised 
excuse. She knew the weariness of delay: " still no 
news from Rome. ... I think His Grace the Arch 
bishop would be glad to help us. ... Beg him, I 
beseech you, to push on the matter/ 

Haste and weather had their effect on her as on 
us: " I write in such haste that I forget half of what 
I want to say. . . . We will make a chalice veil 
for you, but not until the very hot weather is over, 
for one cannot work properly while it lasts/ 

What mother, especially in these days of sorrow 
and anxiety, can read unmoved the Saint s own 
words as she speaks of her daughter s death, and of her 
fears about her son. " I am almost in despair . . . 
so miserable am I about it that I do not know which 
way to turn, if not to the Providence of God, there to 
bury my longings, confiding to His hands not only 
the honour but even the salvation of this already 



PREFACE vii 



half lost child. Oh! the incomparable anguish of 
this affliction. No other grief can come near to it." 

And then we feel her mingled grief and joy when 
at last she learnt that this, her only son, had given 
up his life, fighting for his King, after a humble and 
fervent reception of the Sacraments. 

Thus in the midst of the daily small worries of 
life, and of the great sorrows that at one time or 
other fall to the lot of all, we see a brave and generous 
soul, with human gifts and qualities like to our own, 
treading her appointed path to God. 

No one can read her words without carrying there 
from fresh courage for his life, and a new determina 
tion to battle steadfastly to the end. 

FRANCIS CARDINAL BOURNE, 

Archbishop of Westminster. 

FEAST OF ST. JANE FRANCES 
DE CHANTAL, 

August 2ist, 1917. 



TRANSLATORS PREFACE 

THE letters here translated are, with a few mentioned 
exceptions, selected from "Sainte Jeanne- Franc, oise 
Frerrryot de Chantal: Sa Vie et ses CEuvres," "First 
edition entirely conformable to the original manu 
scripts published under the supervision of the 
religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary at Annecy, 
by E. Plon and Co., rue Garanciere 10, Paris, 



The rendering cannot be looked upon as entirely 
literal, but the translators have kept as closely to 
the original as was consistent with an easy rendering 
in modern English. 

The circular letter to the Sisters of the Visitation 
(page 152) is a remarkable document worthy of the 
reader s special attention, as are also the letters to 
11 Dom John of St. Francis " on St. Francis de Sales, 
and the subtle manifestation of St. Jane Frances 
own state of soul in her letter to " A great Servant 
of God." 

It has been thought better to leave the super- 
ix 



x TRANSLATORS PREFACE 



scription heading all the Saint s letters, Vive 
Jesus " (Let Jesus reign), as in the original, and 
untranslated. 

The title of " Sister Deposed " given to the imme 
diate predecessor in office of the actual Superior is 
peculiar to the Visitation Order. 

There are, as will be seen, a few slight omissions, 
but only when the matter was of no interest or 
importance. 

The Saint, as the reader will observe, does not 
keep to any fixed rule in regard to capital letters. 



CONTENTS 



LETTER 1 AGE 

JUDGMENT OF ST. FRANCIS ON THE VIRTUES 

OF MOTHER DE CHANTAL - I 

I. TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES - 3 

II. TO THE SAME - - 4 

III. TO M. LEGROS- - 5 

IV. THE DUKE OF SAVOY TO ST. JANE FRANCES DE 

CHANTAL - 6 

V. TO MADAME D AUXERRE 7 

VI. TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES - 9 
VII. TO THE SISTERS OF THE MONASTERY OF 

ANNECY - 1 1 

VIII. TO SISTER J. C. DE BRECHARD - 12 

IX. TO SISTER P. M. DE CHATEL - 15 

X. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - 17 

XI. TO THE SAME - 2O 

XII. TO THE SAME - 23 

XIII. TO SISTER P. M. DE CHATEL - - 2 7 

XIV. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - 30 
XV. TO SISTERS P. M. DE CHATEL AND M. A. DE 

BLONAY - 33 

XVI. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - 37 

XVII. TO MADAME DE GOUFFIER - - 40 

XVIII. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - 42 

XIX. SISTER M. A. DE BLONAY - 46 

XX. TO THE SAME - - 49 

xi 



xii CONTENTS 



LETTEH PAGE 

XXI. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - - 5 1 

XXII. TO THE SAME - 55 

XXIII. TO MOTHER J. C. DE BRECHARD - 58 

XXIT. TO M. DE NEUCHEZE - - 60 

XXV. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - - 6l 

XXVI. TO MADAME DE LA FLECHERE - 64 

XXVII. TO SISTER P. J. DE MONTHOUX - 65 

XXVIII. TO M. MICHEL FAVRE - - 68 

XXIX. TO SISTER A. M. ROSSET - - 7 1 

XXX. TO SISTER P. J. DE MONTHOUX - 7 2 

XXXI. TO MADAME DE LA FLECHERE - 73 

XXXII. TO MOTHER J. C. DE BRECHARD - 75 

XXXIII. TO MOTHER P. M. DE CHATEL - 76 

XXXIV. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - - 77 
XXXV. TO SISTER M. A. HUMBERT 79 

XXXVI. TO THE SISTERS OF THE VISITATION AT 

BOURGES - 8O 
XXXVII. TO THE SISTERS OF THE VISITATION AT 

MOULINS 8l 

XXXVIII. TO MOTHER P. M. DE CHATEL 83 

XXXIX. TO MADEMOISELLE DE CHANTAL - - 85 

XL. TO MOTHER J. C. DE BRECHARD - 87 

XLI. TO MADEMOISELLE DE CHANTAL - - QO 

XLII. TO SISTER M. M. LEGROS - 92. 

XLIII. TO MADAME DU TERTRE - 94 

XLIV. TO M. DE PALIERNE - 95 

XLV. TO ST. FRANCIS DE SALES - - IOO 

XLVI. TO MADAME DE LA FLECHERE - IO2 

XLVII. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON -, IO3 

XLVIII. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - - IO5 

XLIX. TO M. DE NEUCHEZE - IO8 

L. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT - IIO 

LI. TO MOTHER M. J. FAVRE - - - 112 



CONTENTS xiii 



LETTER PAGE 

LII. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT - - Il6 

LIII. TO MOTHER M. H. DE CHASTELLUX " Il8 

LIV. TO SISTER M. M. MILLETOT 123 

LV. TO SISTER F. G. DE LA GRAVE - - 124 

LVI. TO THE BISHOP OF AUTUN - - 125 

LVII. TO SISTER A. M. ROSSET - - I2J 

LVIII. TO THE REV. FATHER DOM JOHN DE SAINT 

FRANCOIS - - 129 
LIX. TO A RELIGIOUS OF THE FIRST MONASTERY 

OF THE VISITATION AT PARIS - 139 

LX. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON - 14! 

LXI. TO SISTER A. C. DE SAUTEREAU - - 144 

LXII. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT - - 146 

LXIII. TO THE SAME - 148 

LXIV. TO MOTHER M. A. FICHET - - 149 

LXV. TO THE SISTERS OF THE VISITATION - 152 

LXVI. TO SISTER A. M. DE LAGE DE PUYLAURENS 164 

LXVII. TO THE BARON DE CHANTAL - l66 

LXVIII. TO THE SAME - 167 

LXIX. TO M. DE COULANGES - 1 68 

LXX. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON - 169 

LXXI. TO THE SAME - 170 

LXXII. TO MOTHER M. A. FICHET - - IJl 

LXXIII. TO MOTHER A. C. DE BEAUMONT - - 173 

LXXIV. TO A VISITATION SUPERIOR - 175 

LXXV. TO MOTHER J. H. DE GERARD - 176 

LXXVI. TO SISTER F. A. DE LA CROIX DE FESIGNEY - 179 

LXXVII. TO ST. VINCENT DE PAUL - - l8l 

LXXVIII. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON - 183 

LXXIX. TO MOTHER FAVRE (EXTRACT) - 185 

LXXX. TO SISTER A. M. CLEMENT- - l86 

LXXXl. TO MOTHER C. C. DE CREMAUX DE LA 

GRANGE - - - - - iS 



xiv CONTENTS 



LETTER PAGE 

LXXXII. TO M. POITON - 1 89 

LXXXIII. TO DOM GALICE - - 191 

LXXXIV. TO THE SAME - 1 93 

LXXXV. TO MOTHER A. M. CLEMENT - 194 

LXXXVI. TO SISTER M. D. GOUBERT - 195 

LXXXVII. TO DOM GALICE - - - 196 

LXXXVIII. TO SISTER M. A. DE MORVILLE - - 198 

LXXXIX. TO M. DE COYSIA - - 2OI 

XC. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON - 203 

XCI. TO MGR. ANDRt FR&MYOT - - 205 

XCII. TO A BLIND SISTER - 2 8 

XCIII. TO SISTER B. M. DE HARAUCOURT - 2OQ 

XCIV. TO SISTER P. J. DE MONTHOUX - - 211 

XCV. TO M. NOEL BRULART - 2I 4 

XCVI. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON - 21 6 

XCVII. TO M. NOEL BRULART (EXTRACT) - - 2l8 

XCVIII. TO THE COUNTESS DE TOULONJON - 219 

XCIX. TO SISTER M. A. DE RABUTIN - 224 

C. TO M. NOEL BRULART - 225 

CI. TO MOTHER M. A. LE ROY - 229 

CII. TO SISTER A. L. DE MARIN DE SAINT 

MICHEL - - - 231 

CIII. TO THE ABBfj DE VAUX - - 234 

CIV. TO A GREAT SERVANT OF GOD - - 237 

CV. TO MOTHER A. M. DE RABUTIN - - 243 

CVI. TO ST. VINCENT DE PAUL - - 244 

CVII. TO SISTER C. M. F. DE C USANCE - - 246 

CVIII. TO SISTER J. B. GOJOS - - 248 

CIX. TO SISTER L. A. DE LA FAYETTE - - 249 

CX. TO THE DUCHESS DE MONTMORENCY - 252 

CXI. TO A NOVICE - " 2 54 



JUDGMENT OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES 

ON THE VIRTUES OF MOTHER 

DE GHANTAL 

" MY brother de Thorens," said St. Francis to one 
of his friends, " travelled last month into Burgundy 
to fetch his little wife, and brought back with her 
a mother-in-law whom neither he is worthy of having 
nor I of serving. God has given her to me. She 
has come to be my daughter in order that I may 
teach her to die to the world and to live to Jesus 
Christ. Urged by God s design over her she has 
left all, and has provided for all with a strength 
and prudence not common to her sex, such that in 
her every action the good will find wherewith to 
praise her and the wicked will not know in what 
to blame her." 

In a letter the holy Bishop expresses himself as 
follows: " The Queen Bee of our new hive, because 
she is so eager in the pursuit of virtue, is much 
tormented with sickness, yet she finds no remedy to 
her liking save in the observance of her Rule. I 
have never seen such singleness of intention, such 
submission to authority, such detachment from all 
things, such acceptance of the will of God, such 



JUDGMENT OF ST. FRANCIS 



fervour in prayer as this good Mother shows. For 
my part I believe that God will make her like unto 
St. Paula, St. Angela, St. Catherine of Genoa, and 
the other holy widows." Writing elsewhere to one 
of his relations he says: " I feel unutterable conso 
lation in seeing the moderation of our dear Mother 
in regard to all the obstacles that come in her way 
and her total indifference to the things of earth. In 
all truth I may say that, proportionately to the 
graces received, a soul could not arrive at higher 
perfection. I regard her as an honour to her sex, 
one who with the science of the Saints leads a most 
holy, hidden life concealed by an ordinary exterior, 
who does nothing out of the common and yet is 
irreproachable in all things." 

Once again, writing to a Bishop in answer to a 
letter about Mother de Chantal, St. Francis says: 
" I cannot speak but with respect of this most holy 
soul which combines profound humility with a very 
broad and very capable mind. She is simple and 
sincere as a child, of a lofty and solid judgement. 
A great soul with a courage for holy undertakings 
beyond that of her sex. Indeed, I never read the 
description of the valiant woman of Solomcn with 
out thinking of Mother de Chantal. I write all this 
to you in confidence, for this truly humble soul 
would be greatly distressed if she knew that I had 
said so much in her praise." 



SELECTED LETTERS OF 
ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 

I. 

To St. Francis de Sales. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1611. 

How soon may I hope for the happy day when I 
shall irrevocably offer myself to my God ? He has 
so filled me with the thought of being entirely His, 
and it has come home to me in such a wonderful and 
powerful manner, that, were my emotion to last as 
it now is, I could not live under its intensity. Never 
have I had such a burning love and desire for the 
evangelical life and for the great perfection to which 
God calls me. What I feel about it is quite impos 
sible to put into words. But, alas ! my resolve to 
be very faithful to the greatness of the love of this 
divine Saviour is balanced by the feeling of my in 
capacity to correspond with it. Oh, how painful to 
love is this barrier of powerlessness ! But why do I 
speak thus ? By doing so I degrade, it seems to me, 
the gift of God which urges me to live in perfect 
poverty, in humble obedience, and in spotless 
purity. 



SELECTED LETTERS OF 



II. 

To the Same. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1612. 

My Lord and my own Father, I pray God to fill 
your soul with His choicest blessings, with Himself, 
and above all with the most pure love of Jesus. 
Now, for fear others may alarm you, I am telling you 
myself that this morning I was taken very ill. After 
dinner I had a shivering fit and collapsed completely 
for a time, but now, thank God, I feel quite well 
again; so do not let this trouble you, for the love 
of God, that God Whom my soul loves, adores, and 
desires to serve with the utmost singleness of heart 
and with perfect purity. Obtain for me, my Father, 
when to-morrow you hold this divine Saviour, His 
grace in such abundance that I may for ever adore, 
serve, and love Him perfectly. It is an immense 
consolation to know that you are occupied with that 
heavenly work " the Divine Love/ * With what 
ardour I sigh for that love ! Alas ! my God, when 
shall we see one another utterly consumed there 
with ? 

I have seen the good aunt : what a venerable old 
lady she is ! I assure you I am well now, and you 
know I would not say so if it were not true. May 
Jesus reign and His Holy Mother. Amen. 

* The Treatise on the Love of God. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 5 

III. 

To M. Legros at Dijon. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
SIR, 18^ June, 1612. 

We have given your daughter a true welcome. 
This offering which you and she have made so 
lovingly cannot fail to be very agreeable to the 
good God. You may be consoled and at peace 
about her for she is, and will always be, very dear 
to me. God obliges me to have an exceeding great 
care and love for all those whom He leads here and 
the goodness of your heart, together with her con 
fidence in me, urges and binds me closely to her. 
I have not leisure for more, but once again, let me 
assure you that this dear little soul has found here 
an affectionate Father and Mother, so you may be 
happy about her. I am extremely obliged to you 
for the trouble you have taken about that business 
(illegible lines). . . . May God fill you with grace, 
consolation, and strength to walk in the way of His 
divine commandments ! I affectionately salute all 
your children, for whom I wish a like grace. Madame 
Legros and I have agreed to be as sisters to one 
another. I greatly love and esteem her: she is a 
brave, generous woman. God guide her to Himself. 

Always, Sir, your very humble servant, 

FREMYOT. 



SELECTED LETTERS OF 



IV. 

The Duke of Savoy to St. Jane Frances 
de Chantal. 

VERY REVEREND DEARLY BELOVED AND DEVOUT 

PETITIONER, 

Your choice of my daughter, the Infanta 
Duchess of Mantua, as your Mother and Protectress 
gives us much pleasure. We are delighted that you 
have erected your Congregation in our States, as we 
profoundly esteem your piety, charity, and devotion, 
and we desire by this letter to assure you that you 
have our special protection, and that it is our wish 
to aid, favour, and assist you in all that is necessary 
for the carrying out of your good work. We have 
written to this effect to our nephew the Marquis de 
Lans and to our Senate of Savoy, to which you can 
always have recourse. The Countess de Tournon 
is charged to assist the Infanta at the solemnity 
which you will be celebrating and to instruct her as 
to her duties in regard to you. May I beg a remem 
brance in your prayers and in those of your devout 
flock, whom I pray God to have in His holy 
keeping. 

CHARLES EMMANUEL, 

Duke of Savoy. 
TURIN, 
22nd of December, 1613. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 



V. 

To Madame d Auxerre* Foundress of the Monastery 
of the Visitation at Lyons. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1614. 

Madame, My most dear and beloved Sister, The 
grace of Our Lord be in your heart. 

He has been pleased to grant you your request and 
it is He alone who has inspired you with this desire. 
Again, He alone has put into the hearts of this little 

* This pious widow together with two other ladies made 
a journey to Annecy in 1613 in order to place themselves 
under the direction of St. Francis de Sales. On their return 
to Lyons all three petitioned the Archbishop, Mgr. de 
Marquemont, to establish a Monastery of the Visitation in 
that town. Before, however, acceding to their request he 
asked St. Francis the object of the new Order. The Saint 
at once replied : " To give God souls of prayer who will be 
so interior as to be found worthy to serve and adore His 
infinite Majesty in spirit and in truth. To the great 
Orders . already established in the Church we leave the 
praiseworthy exercises and brilliant virtues by which they 
honour Our Lord. But I wish that the Religious of my 
Order should have no other ambition than to glorify Him 
by their lowliness, so that this little Institute of the Visita 
tion may be as a dovecot of innocent doves whose care and 
employment will be to meditate on the law of the Lord 
without making itself seen or heard in the world, remaining 
hidden in the clefts of the Rock and the Hollow places of 
the wall there to give to their Beloved, as long as life shall 
last, proofs of sorrow and love by their lowly and humble 
sighing." 



8 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

Community a feeling of general satisfaction in regard 
to your undertaking, and for this intention we have 
communicated and prayed much. As for me I tell 
you, trustfully, in confidence, that when I was speak 
ing to our Lord about this affair His divine goodness 
seemed to make manifest to me that He Himself led 
you here with His own hand. This consoled me 
and made me resolve to give you what He commands, 
and this my dearly loved Sister is my answer to . 
what you ask. I give it simply and in all sincerity. 
O how happy you are to have been thus called 
by God to this most excellent service. Respond 
courageously to such abundant graces and remain 
very humble and faithful to His holy will. 

I must say this one word more in answer to what 
you feel as regards God s goodness in giving you as 
guide this great and admirable servant of His.* 
Know, my dearest Sister, that I also so strongly feel 
this, that every day I make a special act of thanks 
giving to God for it, and the longer we live the more 
we shall understand what a grace it is. I remember, 
in reference to it, a Capuchin once telling me that it 
increased his regard for me to think of the peculiar 
care and love that God must have for me to have 

given me this grace Remain now full of 

thanksgiving in peace and certainty, as much as 
it is possible to have in this life, that you are 
carrying out God s holy will. 

* St. Francis de Sales, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 9 

We pray continually for you. All our Sisters 
unite with me in saluting you most cordially. I, 
indeed, look upon your heart, my beloved Sister, as 
mine own, and because this is the very truth you 
must look upon my heart as yours in His who is our 
only Love. 

Adieu. May we belong always wholly to God. 
I remain with incomparable affection, 

Yours, etc. 



VI. 

To St. Francis de Sales. 

Vive ifr Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1614. 

I write because I cannot refrain from doing so ; for 
this morning I am more wearisome to myself than 
usual. My interior state is so gravely defective 
that, in anguish of spirit, I see myself giving way on 
every side. Assuredly, my good Father, I am almost 
overwhelmed by this abyss of misery. The presence 
of God, which was formerly such a delight to me, 
now makes me tremble all over and shudder with 
fear. I bethink myself that the divine eye of Him 
whom I adore, with entire submission, pierces right 
through my soul looking with indignation upon all 
my thoughts, words and works. Death itself, it 
seems to me, would be less painful to bear than the 
distress of mind which this occasions, and I feel as 



io SELECTED LETTERS OF 

if all things had power to harm me. I am afraid of 
everything; I live in dread, not because of harm to 
myself, but because I fear to displease God. Oh, 
how far away His help seems ! thinking of this I 
spent last night in great bitterness and could utter 
no other words than these, " My God, my God, 
alas ! why hast Thou forsaken me." At daybreak 
God gave me a little light in the highest part of my 
soul, yet only there; but it was almost imperceptible; 
nor did the rest of my soul and its faculties share the 
enjoyment, which lasted only about the time of half 
a Hail Mary, then, trouble rushed back upon me 
with a mighty force, and all was darkness. Not 
withstanding the weariness of this dereliction, I 
said, though in utter dryness, " Do, Lord, whatever 
is pleasing to Thee, I wish it. Annihilate me, I am 
content. Overwhelm me, I most sincerely desire it. 
Tear out, cut, burn, do just as Thou pleasest, I am 
Thine." God has shown me that He does not make 
much account of faith that comes of sentiment and 
emotions. This is why, though against my inclina 
tion, I never wish for sensible devotion. I do not 
desire it. God is enough for me. Notwithstanding 
my absolute misery I hope in Him, and I trust He 
will continue to support me so that His will may be 
accomplished in me. Take my feeble heart into 
your hands, my true Father and Lord, and do what 
you see to be wisest with it. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL n 



VII. 

To the Sisters of the Monastery of the Visitation of 
Annecy. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

LYONS, 

i6th February, 1615. 

Excuse me, I beg of you, my dearest and very good 
Sisters, if I do not answer you each one separately, 
which indeed the kindness you have shown me 
deserves that I should do, and my affection for 
you would desire: but neither head nor leisure 
permit it, and besides, God be thanked for it, I see 
no necessity to write to any one in particular. 
Persevere in your good desires and every day become 
more faithful to the observance of your holy Rules 
and love them better. This alone, believe me, 
should be your sole care. Cast not a look upon any 
thing else and be assured that you will walk upon 
the right road and will make a good and prosperous 
voyage. May God in His infinite mercy be with you 
and bless you so that you may perfectly accomplish 
His holy will. With all my heart I desire this, for 
I love you all, and each one individually, with the 
greatest possible affection, far beyond what you 
could imagine. This I tell you all, not forgetting 
those who have not written to me. God bless you, 
my very dear daughters. May He be your sole 



12 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

love and desire. Pray, I beseech you, for the needs 
of your poor Mother, who is very affectionately 

Your most humble and unworthy servant 
in our Lord. 

VIII. 

To Sister Jeanne Charlotte de Brechard, Assistant 
and Mistress of Novices at Annecy. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

LYONS, 
July gth, 1615. 

MY DEAREST SISTER, MY DARLING, 

See now how trouble is lifted off your shoulders 
by the presence you enjoy of my very honoured 
Lord ! * He is most anxious to work at our Rules,f 
and is about to curtail them considerably at the 
desire of the Archbishop of Lyons. I think he 
intends to spend these months of July and August 
at Annecy, for he tells me that during the great heat 
he has more leisure, having fewer visitors. I shall 
be very glad when he has finished the blessed book 
so much desired and so long awaited. J Until I have 
put it into the printer s hands for publication I am 
not, I believe, to leave here for Annecy. So if you 
are in such great need of me, help by your fidelity 
and your prayers to secure time for this good and 

* St. Francis de Sales. 

t The Saint here calls the Constitutions by this name. 

I The Treatise on the Love of God, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 13 

dear Lord to complete the work. The whole day, 
as far as he is free, ought to be devoted to it, but 
though it no longer requires much application, yet 
it progresses very slowly: such is the will of the 
great God, and may His will be accomplished here 
and everywhere. For all that, you must keep up 
your courage; we shall find September upon us 
before we know where we are, and then God will 
console us. You cannot think how I am looking 
forward to my return I am simply longing for it ; 
but, my love, His Lordship does not agree with you 
as to its present necessity; he considers I am more 
useful here now, to satisfy certain persons. Mean 
while, I am getting on with our little business, and 
I trust, through the goodness of God and the brave 
heart of my dearest Sister, that all will go tranquilly 
till I return. Please God, I will do so at the 
appointed time, when the business of the house will 
be more pressing. Then I shall relieve my poor 
little Sister of the burden as much as I am able, and 
she will have nothing to do but to kindle in the hearts 
of her dear novices the love of their Spouse, and to 
caress her poor mother, who is so fond of her. Do 
not forget the sweetmeats for the poor nor the dried 
fruit, as much as you can procure of it. In the 
month of September lay in a provision of butter and 
cheese; Sister Anne Jacqueline (Coste) will help you 
in this. I am a little surprised that you tell me 
there is only corn enough for the end of this month, 



14 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

for it ought to have lasted till the end of September. 

Perhaps you have not paid for what was due, or you 
may not have returned what was advanced to you 
for the masons. Anyhow you must buy more as 
soon as it is wanted; but for these two first months 
purchase the old (jprn rather than the new. After 
that, awaiting the season for laying in provisions, we 
shall see as soon as possible if my son cannot return 
part of what he has had from us, until he is able to 
pay it all back. 

See that Sister Marguerite (Milletot) writes to say 
that we shall keep her pension here, and tell her to 
ask out boldly for the ewer and the gown about 
which so many promises have been made to her. 
They need make no excuse about not being able to 
send them for it is quite easy to get things from here 
to Dijon. You must treat poor Sister Mary Made 
leine (de Mouxy) very gently, and she will, I think, in 
time, see for herself what is necessary. I am writing 
in great haste, for this letter goes by the Bishop. It 
is absolutely necessary to build the sacristies, com 
plete the church, and enclose the little court, for you 
know we must have more accommodation. Then 
we ll stop. As to the continuation of the buildings, 
we must wait and see what can be done when what 
we are now doing is finished. If we buy the houses, 
as his Lordship tells me, and have the Fathers 
garden, that will be a good bit of business done. 

I salute affectionately my very dear and beloved 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 15 

Sisters. May Jesus be all things to them, and they 
all to Jesus. Amen. 

My kind remembrances also to my son M. Michel 
(Favre),* to all our friends, and to the workmen. 
I send two combs for my daughters to tease the red 
wool, and two ells of material to cover the bodice 
of a dress for little Franoise, and two of stuff, which 
is very ugly but most expensive, for the bodice of a 
petticoat, for sleeves and neck kerchiefs, to last her 
over the summer. Please God, for the future I ll choose 
her clothing myself, and not trust it to anyone else. 

Goodbye, and a happy Vespers, f my dear good 
Sister. It is nearly noon and we are only just out 
from table; for the Archbishop of Lyons, as usual, 
came about 10 o clock, f and then came Madame 
Saint diamond. Give me your best prayers, for I 
am most truly miserable. Nevertheless, may the 
great God accomplish His holy will in us ! Amen. 

IX. 

To Sister Peronne Marie de Chdtel at Lyons. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 
MY DEARLY BELOVED SlSTER, ANNECY > ^15. 

Your letters delight me, they are altogether 
after my own heart, that heart that so loves its dear 
Pe"ronne. It is true, my child, that in this life we 

* The Convent Chaplain at Annecy. 

t The Octave Day of the Feast of the Visitation. 

$ The Sisters dinner hour. 



16 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

must always be beginning anew, but if it were not so 
where should we be ? For this is essential to our 
humility and to confidence, the two virtues our good 
God asks of us. Be brave, train yourself to courage 
and to exactitude in the observance. Keep a light 
heart, and above all things put sadness far from you. 
God is wholly ours, and we, my daughter, have no 
other wish than to be wholly His. How then can 
we be solicitous about anything whatsoever ? When 
you have time give me news of that heart that is so 
dear to me and that I know so well, I say, so well, 
thanks be to God. 

I am quite easy as to dearest Sister Marie Jacque 
line, for I never doubted but that she would be a 
success, yet to hear your assurance of it is very 
consoling. Give her all the help you can so as to 
lighten as much as possible the burden of her charge. 
Look after her health; I entrust it to you, and on 
this point she is to go by what you say. 

I beseech you, my love, be a good example to 
others, avoid all useless conversation, never absent 
yourself from the community assemblies without 
real necessity. Give challenges to spur each other 
on to virtue. Let your chief care be to inculcate 
recollection, practise it yourself in good earnest, it 
ought to be preeminently our practice. Incite one 
another to it, and to seek Our Lord, and our own 
perfection in singleness of heart. 

I have received all your letters and the other 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 17 

things you sent by Chamb6ry, but they came very 
late. Another time, my dearest daughter, to give 
you comfort we ll talk as you desire, heart to heart, 
but I am feeling the cold to-day, and am pressed for 
time. In a word, humility, exact observance, holy 
confidence and joy in God. 

Our very dear Father is, he says, entirely yours. 
All our Sisters salute you. To conclude, you are, as 
I told you the other day, my own dear Peronne, 
whom I love with all my heart. When M. Michel 
goes to see you he will give you plenty of news ; he 
is not, however, going for some little time yet. 

Yours wholly in Jesus. 

X. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior 
at Lyons. 

Vive 4- Jsus ! 

ANNECY, 1615. 

They have taken me by surprise. Here is M. de 
Boisy, who tells me that if I wish to write to you, my 
daughter, now is the opportunity. He starts at 
dawn, and so at dawn I write this letter in all haste. 
Well, as to your letters, they always give me 
pleasure and console me exceedingly. All praise to 
the good God who I see leads you and holds you by 
His paternal Hand, so that you have nothing to do 
but to cling close to it, and leave yourself to Him, 
walking with all possible humility, and simplicity, 



i8 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

under His holy protection, while you train your 
little flock to advance faithfully, for it is in this way 
that He wishes you to show your fidelity, and it is 
for this end that I always tell you, my dearest, that 
you should keep yourself, as much as the perfor 
mance of necessary duties allow, free and disengaged 
from occupations, so that you may be continually in 
the midst of your Sisters at the times that they are 
assembled together, thus will you enlighten and 
animate them in their duty by example as well as by 
precept . I quite agree with our worthy and excellent 
Archbishop. He is right, my daughter, believe me, 
you must be Mother and Mistress. Nevertheless, it 
is well to try the capacity of Sister Marie Aimee,* 
for she is good, though a little too reserved and 
somewhat lazy, letting nature dictate, and yet I 
hope that she will, notwithstanding, further the 
progress of these dear children by good example 
and by her tongue if she lets it loose. Moreover, as 
you will often be unable to be with them yourself, 
she can take your place, and thus be a constant 
relief to you. Your resolve about Madame Raime 
is quite to my mind. Deduct the amount of the 
damask plums from what you receive and you can 
ask M. de Mediof and M. Voullart as to how to act. 
Be at ease about the dearly loved Peronne Marie. 

* Sister Marie Aimee de Blonay had just been made 
Mistress of Novices, a charge which she greatly dreaded. 
f Canon of Lyons. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 19 

I never thought of what they told you, but do not 
on that account delay to train these girls to house 
work, for most certainly charity obliges you to give 
the good daughter a rest after she has put the house 
in good order, and others have been trained for this 
purpose. Alas ! my dearest daughter, I have great 

compassion for poor Sister . Undoubtedly, her 

imagination plays a large part in her case, but our 
good Archbishop and the confessor ought to help 
in the curing of her. Treat as despicable and in no 
manner condone what she esteems so much in herself. 
I will write to her as to the others when I have leisure. 

You must take great care of the good Sister . 

Keep her bright, and as much occupied as possible, 
see that she eats and sleeps well, for usually any 
weakness of the brain lends itself to such tempta 
tions of the imagination, so, dear daughter, show her 
infinite compassion, charity, and patience. God 
and time will reveal to us what it is all about. 

Daylight is breaking, and I have nothing very 
special to say except, indeed, that you ought to be 
very grateful for the blessing God has conferred upon 
you in giving you as fathers two such exceptionally 
great and worthy prelates, whose remarkable piety 
pleases God and man.* I cannot tell you what a 
consolation it is to me to see how God has united 
these two souls, and I believe this union will bring 
Him more glory than our little judgements are 
* St. Francis de Sales and Mgr. de Marquemont. 



20 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

capable of understanding. So with all my heart I 
praise God for having given me this consolation 
which I have so long prayed for and desired, clearly 
seeing how much good it would effect, and the solace 
of mind it would bring to our worthy Lord Arch 
bishop, whose goodness merits and needs it. His 
dear Lordship here is full of kindness, -and in perfect 
accord with this prelate, and has a great reverence 
for him. I will write as soon as possible to these 
dear children ; meanwhile, give them my affectionate 
love. May the great Jesus fill their hearts with 
sweetness, simplicity, and innocence ! My respect 
ful and affectionate remembrance to my Lord 
Archbishop. My regards also to good Father Philip 
de Saint-Nizier, the chaplain, and whoever else you 
think I ought to mention. Do not tell the President* 
that you do not get letters from me for I never fail 
to write when there is an opportunity. Remember 
me very specially to your two dear companions, my 
daughters, and most dear Sisters. 

Good-morning, my love. May Jesus be your all. 
Amen. 

XI. 
To the Same 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1615. 

.... I think you have received both the letters 
that I have written to you since our arrival. Now 
* Antoine Favre, Mother Marie Jacqueline s father. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 21 

to answer yours, which has been a joy beyond words 
to me : so is it in your power, my dearest Sister and 
friend, to give me true pleasure. You are indeed 
happy in serving our Lord and His holy Mother: 
give your service, my beloved friend, with boundless 
joy and courage. Our very good Father, whom as 
yet I have hardly seen, wrote you the other day an 
excellent and beautiful letter.* Ah ! how blessed 
are they who hide themselves in the sacred breast of 
the Saviour, and elsewhere find no delight. But I 
really must answer your letter. I am writing during 
the Sisters supper, and I have had no time as yet to 
converse with any of them. Keep firm to the line 
you have adopted with M. de Saint-Nizier, that is 
all I have to say on that point. I must answer 
Pere Theodose, but it is you who ought to do this. 
Yes, I told Sister - - that you would give her a 
little book on perfection, but she must not let her 

* In this letter, having consoled her for the departure of 
Sister J. F. de Chantal, Saint Francis addresses these sweet 
words to her: " We need never part from one another, we 
whom the very blood of Our Lord that is to say, His love, 
through the merits of His blood binds and unites together. 
Indeed, as for me, I am in very truth so entirely yours that 
in proportion to the distance that these two or three days 
of journeying seem to separate us corporally the more 
strongly and with the more affection am I united spiritually 
to you as to my very dear daughter. You will be the first 
after our Mother (de Chantal) in my prayers and my solici 
tude, a solicitude, however, which is more sweet through 
the extreme confidence which I have in the heavenly care 
of divine Providence for your soul." (M. S. Lives of the 
First Mothers, by Mere de Chaugy.) 



22 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

imagination run away with her, so as to think she 
possesses all the good qualities she desires and which 
she hears discussed. Keep her gently and cordially 
humble, and believe me, my love, she will, please 
God, do very well. 

There are countless things, my dearest Sister, that 
I long to say about the true and sincere affection I 
have for you, and this because I verily believe that 
we are not separated, but more united than ever, for 
our mutual intercourse by letter brings home to us, 
it seems to me, all the more forcibly our affection. 
O God ! may this love be eternal : our life here is 
too short to suffice for the enjoyment of so great a 
good ! But to answer your little questions. God 
be praised for the zeal of our good Sisters in holy 
obedience. Oh ! but it is sweet and pleasant news 
to me, and for them an inestimable treasure. I 
beseech these dearest daughters, whom I truly love, 
to give all the consolation possible by following after 
perfection holily and faithfully. Oh, my God, we 
have only, my dearest one, my Sister, to die or to 
love our good Saviour. Amen. 

His Lordship has, through the chaplain, acceded 
to the desire of Madame Colin. You have answered 
N. right well; no thanks are needed in such matters. 
If I can I will write to M. ; if not, do it yourself, my 
love, for these are our affairs. Believe me, I pray 
much, and will continue to do so for you, and still 
more for your dear Father and Mother. . . . 



St. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 23 

XII. 

To the Same. 

Vive *%4 Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1615. 

MY DEAREST SISTER, MY DARLING, 

First of all it is quite true that I am entirely 
at your service. Next, it is from no lack of diligence 
on my part that you have been kept so long without 
news of us, for we have frequently sent to the trades 
people to find out if any were going to Lyons. 
You must not, then, think that I am wanting in care 
or affection for you. I do not know how that 
traveller you speak of passed through without my 
knowing. Now to answer your letters, though I 
assure you I have to do so in the greatest haste. 
We have sent you our Office books, and the carrier 
has delivered everything from you the beautiful 
candlesticks and the crucifixes, for which, above all, 
we thank you. God will give you all that is neces 
sary to instruct these girls from Riom. It is well that 
you have them, for it is essential that they come 
either here or to Lyons, otherwise it would be impos 
sible for us for a good long while to provide sub 
jects suitable for foundations. Truly the making of 
Superiors is not the matter of a day. 

The First President of Toulouse has written to 
his Lordship asking for Sisters for a foundation, and 
he has replied that he will see to subjects being 



24 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

formed for it. This community is becoming very 
large, and needs assiduous care. Mademoiselle du 
Chatelard and Mademoiselle d Avise were here last 
week, and asked with great humility and earnestness 
that the votes might be taken for their admittance 
as probationers. This has been done, and they are 
coming at the beginning of the approaching great 
feasts. Both souls are altogether to my liking. 
Several others are applying for admission. . . . 

We must charitably bear with N., and employ 
both the green wood and the dry to keep her brothers 
and sisters away from her, and to induce her 
to curtail her correspondence. She is in bondage 
to these things, and never will she have courage to 
break her chains if she is not helped. May God in 
His mercy take her by His good hand and lead her 
out of all superfluous cares. His grace the Arch 
bishop has acted prudently in at once settling that 
her sister is not to be received, to do otherwise would 
have been inexpedient. She ought not to put upon 
us these great obligations to Madame la president e 
Le Blanc* who is one of those women of the world 
whom I greatly admire. A thousand cordial saluta 
tions to her. 

My darling, for the love of God always write quite 
openly to me about all your little affairs, and don t 
take the trouble to copy your letters. I say this not 
only for myself but also on the part of our good 

* See note to Letter XIX., page 49. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CtfANTAL 25 

Lord, and it will suffice to write only to one or other 
of us, for we are as one by the grace of God, and .1 
see that so much writing gives you headaches. 
This too will economize your time. You will easily 
be excused by everybody, except perhaps by the 
dear brother de Boisy*, for the rest they must write 
to you and not expect answers unless you have time 
and want to recreate yourself. I am undecided 
whether or no to write to M. Austrain, but in any 
case be sure to offer him my respects. His little 
daughterf is indeed very happy. Three of us have 
the special care of her. She is very charming, but 
M. and Mme. Austrain ought to inculcate obedience, 
and tell her that they always hold it in reverence. 
I am very fond of her and so are all our Sisters. 
Assure them of this, and that I greatly desire to 
serve them and to give them satisfaction in regard 
to her. In reference to this over affection that you 
have for me, you are doing quite right. Alas ! 
dearest daughter, I am not exempt from these 
feelings. In such things be very generous in the 
guard you keep over yourself; hardly ever speak of 
it, still less think of it : feelings of this kind should be 

* The Count de Boisy was brother of St. Francis de 
Sales. 

t The Monastery of Lyons was under obligations to M. 
Austrain, and St. Jane Frances took his little daughter back 
with her to Annecy at his desire. Subsequent letters show 
that this child did ^ot respond to the Saint s kindness and 
had to be sent away. 



26 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

borne with silently and sweetly, taking, as it were, 
no notice of them. 

How consoled I should be if M. D. is caught in the 
net. May the good God do this mercy. I want you 
to get news of the temporal affairs of our late good 
Sister Marie Renee (Trunel) from the General of the 
Feuillants, and to ask his opinion; the first paper 
which Sister Peronne Marie (de Chatel) sent was a 
rough draft ; you will have received what we wrote 
to you by M. Voullart. For God s sake, darling, do 
all you can soon to procure the money that should 
come to us for Sister F. A., as we are in great neces 
sity, and nobody wants to pay us. M. Voullart has 
the authority for receiving it (illegible lines). . . . 

Adieu, my love, I am all right as to health, but I 
want to improve otherwise when I have time to 
think about it. I intend to take full advantage of 
my co-adjutrice. I don t know which to choose 
unless Sister N. Sister P. M. [de Chatel] would make 
an excellent one. Some day please God I hope to 
have her, meantime I advise you to make use of her 
for yourself. 

Adieu, once more. Let us be His for ever and 
ever.* 

* The Lives of Mother Favre, de Brechard and de Chatel 
are given in the " Lives of the First Mothers of the Visita 
tion," by Mother de Chaugy. There is a recent life of 
Mother de Chatel under the title of " Peronne Marie " (Burns 
and Gates), in which are introduced slight character-sketches 
of Mothers Favre, de Brechard, de Blonay and de Sautereau. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 27 



XIII. 

To Sister Ptronne Marie de Chdtel at Lyons. 

Vive >%4 Tesus ! 

ANNECY, 

January, 1616. 

At last, my dearest daughter, I take up your letter 
to answer it as far as I am able. May the good God 
inspire me to say what is for His glory and your 
consolation. All the repugnances of which you 
speak, all your feelings, aversions, difficulties, are all 
to my judgement for your greater good, and you 
are bound not to yield to them. You should keep 
making resolutions every day to fight and resist 
them nevertheless when you fall, say fifty times a 
day, never on any account be astonished or uneasy, 
but quite gently reproach yourself, arid take up 
again the practice of the contrary virtue, saying all 
the time words of love and confidence to Our Lord, 
and saying them just as much after you have fallen 
into a thousand faults as if you had only fallen into 
one. Do not forget all we have said to you on this 
subject, and practise it for the love of God, being 
assured that God will draw His glory and your perfec 
tion out of this infirmity, never have a doubt on this 
point, and bear up bravely and sweetly whatever 
happens. If sometimes you feel weak, cowardly, 
with no confidence in God, compel your lips to utter 
words the very opposite to your feelings, and say 



28 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



them firmly. My Saviour, my all, notwithstanding 
my miseries, and my distrust, I trust Thee out and 
out, for Thou art the strength of the weak, the 
refuge of the miserable, the wealth of the poor, in a 
word Thou art my Saviour, who hast ever loved the 
sinner. Now these and like words, my dearest 
daughter, you can say, and though with neither 
devotion nor tears, yet with set purpose. Then pass 
on to divert your mind in some way, for the Al 
mighty will not let you escape from His hand, which 
has so securely captured you, and do you not see 
how His sweet goodness comes to your succour in so 
striking and profitable a manner ? 

I beg of you preserve the remembrance of the 
instructions you have received in the past, and 
put them into practice, whenever occasion offers. 
When you feel the need of writing to me, write. I 
will always answer you promptly, and with the 
truthfulness of a heart that is wholly yours. Be 
very careful to give good example. Fidelity and 
exactness in observance is, as you know, necessary 
for this, and also a well-ordered exterior, the basis of 
which depends on the practice of the presence of 
God. As far as you can quietly manage it release 
yourself from household duties. I have already 
spoken to Sister * about this, and you will, I think, 
find her of my opinion, for otherwise those for 
whom the charges are intended cannot be fittingly 
* Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 29 

trained. Certainly, my love, I am altogether 
satisfied and consoled with your dear little Mother, 
who is with you; every one tells me how well she 
gets on and what you yourself continue to write 
about her gives me increasing pleasure, for I know 
with what sincerity you speak. I trust in God that 
she will be one day a great and worthy servant of 
His and that she will do good to many. She ought 
to steep herself ever more in humility and grow in 
resignation : help her according to your little lights, 
and tell her simply in all truth, what seems to you 
for her own good and for that of the house. God 
know r s how sincerely I love her ; I know her heart and 
how she feels under obligation to you, while you are 
conscious that the obligation is on your side. I am 
well aware of the help and profit that I receive from 
my coadjutrix; such is an inestimable blessing for 
superiors, who from the multiplicity of affairs cannot 
give sufficient attention to minor things which it is 
expedient should be remedied. Let me once more 
beg of you, my dear little Peronne, to further in 
every way you can my desire that our dear Sister s 
spirits are kept up, and without teasing her have an 
eye to her health ; tell her frankly what is necessary, 
and see that she does it, for she ought to yield to you 
in this, just as you should obey her quite simply 
when she orders what she considers necessary for 
your health. You can humbly represent to her how 
much you feel able to do, but in such a way that she 



30 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



may have no reason to distrust or be displeased with 
you. It is better to exceed in charity than in labour, 
and for God s sake never give way to disquietude : do 
everything you can to get well, for it is only your 
nerves. I must conclude, for I am feeling somewhat 
indisposed. A hundred thousand loves to all our 
dearest sisters ; indeed with all my heart I love your 
little flock. May their thoughts be ever set on their 
Spouse, and may they hold intercourse with Him 
like pure, sweet, simple, chaste doves. I embrace 
them all, big and little, lovingly and tenderly, in 
spirit, but above all do I embrace my well-loved 
Pe"ronne. His Lordship salutes you and loves you 
tenderly. Vive J6sus. 



XIV. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at 
Lyons. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
January ^th, 1616. 

Only one word, my poor dear daughter, for there 
is no time to write as much as I should wish. 
Hardly has one been told that there is an opportunity 
of sending a letter than they come to fetch it. For 
the love of God, my dear friend, do not allow your 
self to be so easily carried away by your affections. 
Hold fast in God your spirit, your love, and all your 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 31 

pleasure. Keep your heart strong and generous, 
and interior joy will come back to you. We are not 
separated, my dearest daughter, be assured of this, 
and when it is necessary to think and speak of me 
accustom yourself to do so with a free and joyous 
spirit as if I were present to you. Ah ! my love, to 
know that our good God is everywhere, and that He 
is always ready to be to us, Father, Mother, sweet 
and gentle Spouse, should indeed make us happy. 
I am very glad that you have taken Mme. de 
Chevrieres for a mother ; * she is a virtuous and useful 
friend and I greatly like her: offer her my humble 
respects. Our poor dear Sisters Christmas carols 
are very nice. I love all these dear hearts : tell them 
so, darling, I beg of you. . . . 

In your next letter say how you are really feeling, 
for I cannot say that I like to hear of your getting 
thin. My daughter de Thorens has written to me 
(illegible lines), speaks of the marriage of M. de 
Foras with Fran^oise. Madame is wrong, I assure 
you, my dear friend, in blaming his Lordshipt for 
not writing to her. I see very little of him, and I 
cannot tell you how long it is since I last spoke with 
him: he is overwhelmed with business. However, 

* It was a common custom at this epoch to contract 
spiritual alliances as a mark of reverence, gratitude, and 
affection. It is of such an alliance that Saint Jane Frances 
here approves. Madame de Chevrieres -was a pious ajid 
devoted friend of the monastery at Lyons . 

t St. Francis de Sales. 



32 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

if I see him I will ask him to write to her, and I shall 
do so myself, if possible. 

Well, most certainly I pity the good Archbishop 
of Lyons with his rules: the poor man is worrying 
himself to death over them. Why on earth does he 
not fish where he knows there is plenty of water. 
Do not send the regulations that he has made for us 
without also sending the rules, and get to know as 
tactfully as you can what he is planning and the 
cause of this delay. 

As to exterior mortifications, they are performed 
here in the right spirit and with devotion. You 
know them : Some prostrate across the doorway with 
face to the ground, others hold out their arms in the 
form of a cross, others again wear a cord round 
their neck, and ask pardon, or mention and deplore 
their imperfections out loud, ask for an alms and the 
like. However, I permit them but rarely, because 
frequency lessens their power, and when done with 
devotion they profit and mortify those who perform 
them, and edify the others. You can of course allow 
them, but only at the times set down, unless the 
Sisters ask your permission, and let this come from 
themselves (illegible lines). 

They have come to fetch the letters. Good-day, 
dearest daughter. Always yours. Be humble in all 
things, and practice mortification of spirit. Vive 
J6sus. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 33 



XV. 

To Sisters Peronne Marie de Chdtel and Marie Aimet 
de Blonay. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 1616. 
MY DEAREST DAUGHTERS, 

I will begin by answering your last letter, and 
then go back as far as I am able to the preceding 
one, saying, please God, what He wishes me to say 
to you. 

First, then, my dear daughter, I ll tell you what 
Our Lord wants of you and of us all, a humble 
and tranquil submission to His most holy will in 
whatsoever happens, for everything is, without 
question, ordained by divine Providence for His 
glory, and for our gain; henceforth to be indifferent 
to health or sickness, consolation or desolation, the 
enjoyment or privation of what we most cherish, 
should be our aim. May our hearts have but one 
desire, that His holy will be accomplished in us and 
in regard to us. Let us not philosophize on things 
that happen to ourselves or to others, but, as I have 
already said, remaining sweetly humble, and tranquil, 
in the condition in which God has placed us. In 
pain patient, in sorrow enduring, in action active, 
without stopping to think whether we commit faults 
in this way or that, for such reflections are nothing 
but self-love. 

3 



34 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

Instead of all that, look at God, and take faithfully 
as it presents itself every opportunity of practising 
suitable virtues. When you fail through cowardice 
or infidelity be not disturbed, make no reflections, 
humble yourself in meekness and confusion before 
God, and then lose no time in rising up again by an 
act of courage and holy confidence. 

Now, my daughter (Pronne Marie), and my little 
one (Marie Aime*e), do thus; this letter is for you 
both in common, for I know that your hearts hide 
nothing from one another. In future, as I have so 
little leisure, I will always write to you together, 
unless you tell me that, for some particular reason, 
you wish me to answer you individually, in which 
case I will willingly do so, for I am at your disposal. 
Believe me, I love you with all my heart, and I have 
to bear my fair share in the mortification of your 
absence, though indeed you are more than ever 
present to me in spirit; but the good God has 
arranged it so, and all is sweet in His holy 
will. 

You, my Pronne, and the little Sister, when 
you happen to be ill, receive relief willingly and 
graciously. And mind, in whatever form it comes, 
whether it be to rise, to go to bed, to eat, obey simply, 
and without making difficulties. My dear P&ronne, 
walk manfully in your old way, both as to the 
interior, and the exterior. When you are asked what 
point of prayer you take, and the like, answer boldly 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 35 

as to what you have done or thought formerly in 
this way: " I have had such thoughts in prayer or 
done such things while walking about, or when in 
bed " ; but do not say : "To-day, or at such an hour, 
I have done such a thing." It is not necessary to be 
so explicit, but simply say, " I have done or seen 
such a thing," and have no scruple in calling all your 
good aspirations and thoughts prayer, for they are 
prayer, and so, for the matter of that, are all our 
actions when done to please God. It is enough to 
salute your good Angel morning and evening. 
Attention to the presence of God and of Our Lady 
includes all, for the blessed Spirits are engulphed in 
the abyss of the Divinity, and it is more perfect to 
walk simply. When a novice says to you, " What 
are you thinking of ?" answer frankly, " I am think 
ing of God," without saying (if it is not so), I was 
thinking of the Passion, and the like, for no doubt 
to mention a particular subject (if we were not 
thinking of it) would be an untruth. Say simply, 
" I was thinking of Our Lord," and you might, for 
example, add, " My God, how happy we should be 
if we could always have the Holy Passion or the 
Nativity before our eyes." This gives edification 
enough. I see nothing else to say. 

Oh ! but yes; just a word for my Little One. I beg 
of you, my dearest Sister, not to trouble about what 
you feel or do not feel this I say once for all. Serve 
Our Lord as it pleases Him, and while He keeps you 



36 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

in the desert serve Him there with good courage. 
He made His dear Israelites spend forty years there, 
accomplishing a journey that they could have made 
in forty days. Take courage then, and be satisfied 
with saying, and being able to say, though without 
relish, " I wish to live wholly for God and never to 
offend Him;" and when you stumble, as is sure to 
happen (be it a hundred times a day), rise up again 
by an act of confidence. Do likewise towards your 
neighbour, be content with having the desire to love 
him, or desiring to desire it, and to procure for him 
all possible good, and, opportunity given, minister 
gently to him. 

In short take bravely the road in which God leads 
you it is a safe one, although you may not have all 
the light and satisfaction you would like; but it is 
quite time to abandon to Our Lord all these plans 
and desires, and to walk blindly, as divine Providence 
wills, believing that it will lead you aright. Now, 
adieu. Our good M. Michel (Favre) will tell you all 
the news. Needless to say, I recommend him to 
you, for I am extremely fond of him. He is our 
dear brother and child: entirely devoted to us. 
Thousands of cordial messages to those most dear 
daughters of my heart, and special messages to whom 
you know, and to all, for indeed I most truly love 
them all. 

Adieu, my beloved daughters. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 37 

XVI. 
To Mother M. J. Favre. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1616. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

Your letter deeply touches me. May God 
give us genuine humility, sweetness, and submission, 
for with these virtues there is truth, but without 
them usually deception and no sure dependence. 
No need to consult about this good woman, she must 
be put out, for a thousand reasons. Unless God 
give you light to the contrary, beware of acting on 
any human reasons put forward by her relations. 
You must drink the chalice, my daughter, and bear 
with contempt for the sake of exact observance. 
But act, I pray you, in this matter with gentleness 
and consideration, saying nothing that might cause 
any trouble to this poor woman.* 

* Elsewhere St. Jane Frances thus sums up for her 
daughters the views expressed to her on religious life by 
their Founder, St. Francis de Sales. " In truth, there are 
few monasteries which do not possess some one who gives 
a great example of virtue, but the majority are weak and 
neither great nor elevated in character. This evil is 
brought about by persons becoming religious who are not 
yet really good Christians. Such know indeed their Founder 
and their constitutions, but they have little knowledge of 
Jesus Christ and His gospels. They aspire to become 
perfect in a day, while yet they are unaware of their own 
miseries and need of justification. They expect to be 
cured without thoroughly knowing their disease or the 



38 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

As to Mdlle. N., we only have knowledge of her 
in so far as to be able to say that we fear her becoming 
very dejected from her melancholy and unstable 
temperament. However, you will have to receive 

physician. They begin with the roof instead of with the 
foundations, and are eager to offer to the divine Master 
what He has only recommended as a counsel, without taking 
the trouble to give Him what He exacts as a debt. From 
hence come so many dissensions, murmurings, and com 
plaints about trivial things, so much imprudence, so many 
indiscretions, suspicions, rash judgements, attachments to 
one s own inclinations and way of thinking, and to trifles; 
such impatience of contempt, so little fervour in prayer, 
so little reverence for the holy mysteries, so little fruit from 
confession and frequent communion, such a poor conception 
and idea of the life to come, so little gratitude to Jesus 
Christ, so little solidity and dignity in the practices of 
devotion. The remedy for all these evils is to employ the 
time of noviceship in learning truly to know the adorable 
Master; His precepts, maxims and counsels, by a thorough 
explanation of His gospel; truly to understand the nobility 
of man, whom God only can render happy; his fall and his 
misery, which the Incarnation and the death of a God could 
alone remedy: the corruption of his heart, of which self- 
love is master; the inability in himself to do any good 
without the grace of Jesus Christ: the never-ending danger 
from that concupiscence which, though conquered, is 
always within him; the necessity of continual prayer, of 
solitude, of penance, in order to keep the senses subject 
to the spirit ; truly to understand how terrible God is in His 
judgements, how heinous are the sins committed after 
baptism, how differently we shall look upon things after 
death, and what a heavy responsibility for us will be the life 
and death of the Redeemer: truly to learn the folly of 
despising these truths and the sanctity which the grace of 
the law of this Jesus exacts from us, He who is our Saviour 
and our Model," 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 39 

her for a first trial and to tell her frankly that she 
will be obliged to undergo at least four months 
probation in the house before she receives the habit. 
As to the condition she wishes to lay down of being 
always with you after her profession, it is not to be 
heard of. She must not claim to make arrangements 
on becoming a Religious, as if she was purchasing a 
farm-house; therefore, should there be no conditions 
in her contract, and no reserves, the only thing she 
can reserve to herself is the resolution never to do her 
own will, and to live peaceably and humbly in the 
Congregation. I beg of you, my true daughter, 
maintain a gentle and a humble, a generous and a 
joyous heart in the midst of the bustle of affairs, for 
this God requires of you. 

You are right in thinking our Sisters de Chatel 
and de Blonay are two pearls of virtue. They have 
not a little obliged me in so candidly opening their 
hearts to you. I never doubted but that they would 
do so, and I am sure you will always receive conso 
lation and support from them. Gently encourage 
the dear Cadette* to be more expansive and open- 
hearted with the sisters. She can do it if she look 
humbly unto God and overcome herself. I beg of 
her to teach her novices to see the advantage of 
correction, and to love it. They ought to aspire to 
great purity of life and become familiar in their 

* A name given by St. Francis to Mother Marie Aimee 
de Blonay. 



40 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

communications with their divine Spouse. I shall 
not write to them now; it suffices that we two, 
whom God has so intimately united, confer with one 
another. God bless you, my child, I am very glad 
to know the state of your heart. Keep it one with 
God in fidelity to the Rule and a stranger to all un 
profitable things; for, my true daughter, God has 
appointed you for my succour and to carry with me 
the burden which He Himself has laid upon me. Do 
not say that you are inconsolable on account of our 
separation. I assure you that I write much more 
to you than I tell our sisters here. We do not 
see one another it is true, but that is all, and I think 
a little corporal absence renders you more present 
to the mind than if you were present. In every 
thing else we never make any difference between you 
and our Sisters here, if it be not that you are more 
loved and more carefully instructed. Now pity 
yourself no more, since Jesus Christ is the privileged 

bond that unites us. 

Yours, etc. 

XVII. 
To Madame de Gouffier. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

ANNECY. 

ijth July, 1616. 

I can only send you this little note, my dearest 
daughter, but his Lordship is answering your letters. 
Our Sisters (Favre and de Chatel) are to arrive this 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 41 

evening, so you can imagine how busy we are getting 
ready for them. God be blessed for all you tell me, 
and may the work you have undertaken be to you a 
precious crown for the greater honour of God and 
for our consolation. 

Certainly, very dear daughter, if the glory of God 
and your reputation were not so much involved in 
this transaction we should never risk sending our 
sisters. Our reasons would be unalterable in regard 
to anyone save you yourself. Sister Jeanne Char 
lotte will tell you what they are. The experience of 
Lyons has taught us to walk circumspectly. But 
we have not the heart to disappoint this daughter 
who is so much one of ourselves. May God be your 
portion and ours for all eternity ! It is impossible 
for me to leave this house at present, so I cannot 
accompany the Sisters whom we are sending to 
Lyons. They will arrive, please God, on the 2Qth 
of this month, and they can start with you on the 
5th or 6th of August, but not before. We shall write 
again by them. May God love us, and our love be 
all for Jesus eternally. 

Adieu, my daughter. I embrace you with all my 
soul which is wholly yours. But let us not engage 
in any more combats until we are fully armed ! I 
prefer to have few monasteries and those well 
established than many badly provided.* 

* Madame de Gouffter, a religious of the Order of the 
Holy Ghost, was attracted to greater devotion by reading 



42 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

XVIII. 

To Mother Jacqueline Fame, Superior at Lyons. 

Vive >$< Jesus ! 

ANNECY. 

June, 1616. 
MY OWN DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

You and all the dear Sisters to whom I am 
in debt must needs be perpetually pardoning me. 
Only at the last moment are we told of an opportu 
nity to send letters, and having no time to get mine 
ready beforehand I am constrained to write in a 
breathless fashion. They have just come to say 

the " Introduction to a Devout Life," and made a long 
journey to confer with its author, St. Francis de Sales. 
The Sister annalist of the Order tells us that Madame de 
Goumer, on arriving, Devoutly f erretted out all she could 
about the rising Congregation to see if it might not be the 
promised land designed by God for her, in which she hoped 
to find rivers flowing with milk and honey. Full of 
admiration for the new Institute, Madame de Goumer wished 
to become a member, but insurmountable impediments 
opposed her design, and she could only obtain permission 
to wear the religious habit within the enclosure, where she 
was known under the name of Sister Marie Elizabeth. 
With tireless energy the new benefactress gave a helping 
hand to the foundations of Lyons, Moulins, and Paris, in all 
of which houses she successively sojourned, ever seeking to 
make herself useful to the Sisters, whose virtue was indispu 
tably made manifest by the thorns without number with 
which, all unwittingly, she strewed their paths. Towards 
the end of 1621 Madame de Goumer quitted her exile here 
below for the true Promised Land." 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 43 

that Sire Pierre sets out to-morrow. Patience in all 
things ! However, as I want to write to our sisters, 
and very fully to you, and very particularly to my 
son M. Michel, those letters I will send by the chap 
lain. You now know for certain what are our good 
Lord s intentions regarding the Religious question: 
I mean the conversion of our Congregation into a 
Religious Order, with the conditions laid down for 
us, which are all excellent, and about which our 
resolution is unalterable. This step has been before 
the Archbishop of Lyons for a long time, and he did 
not wish it to be known. But what does it matter 
to us, I pray you, whether our vows are solemn, or 
made as they are in public, or whether we are to be 
called a Religious Order or a Congregation P Such 
things do not signify at all. We have always shown 
that we are willing for it on- condition that nothing 
whatever is changed as to the end of our Institute 
or the means of attaining that end, to which, thanks 
be to God, we have, up to this, adhered for His glory 
and the salvation of our neighbour. We do not ask 
or seek to be brought forward, and only wish to be 
left as we are, content to remain in our littleness, 
and infinitely preferring it if the glory of God does 
not demand otherwise. 

Now, dearest daughter, your mind will be clear 
on this subject, and you can satisfy those who make 
inquiries. I greatly desire that our good Father 
Rector, a man of great virtue and capability, should 



44 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

know all, and give his opinion on the whole matter 
to the Bishop, who is anxious to have it. His last 
letter to me gives the impression that he thinks quite 
the reverse of the above. For the rest, dearest 
daughter, if you have an opportunity get the Arch 
bishop to write and tell his Lordship how he means 
to act in regard to the Bishop s last letter, for this is 
of importance to the affair in Rome; but do not let 
him see any eagerness on your part or that you have 
been asked to do this. Enough on this subject. 

What a grace has not the good God done us these 
six years in having called us to true perfection by a 
manner of life so fitting to our sex. Ever blessed 
be this divine Saviour. I tried to-day to renew my 
heart fervently so as henceforth to live in accordance 
with God s holy will. My great longing for you, 
who are so dear to me, is that you may bravely cast 
aside all that is not of God, and having but one 
heart, that you may keep it exclusively for the one 
Saviour, who has given His dear life to win our 
love and our salvation. . . . 

Let us have a great love for our Sisters and bear 
gently and sweetly with their little miseries and 
weaknesses, without which we shall never be, and 
thus make good use of the first-fruits of the spirit 
which God has diffused on us here, and on you. 

What joy took possession of my heart yesterday, 
dearest daughter, when I caught a glimpse of a 
chance of seeing you again, and what noise and 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 45 

excitement at recreation when I gave the news of 
your coming ! Truly it is delightful to see how they 
all love you. Don t you think that it is quite 
necessary for me to keep my pleasure to myself in 
case you do not come, for they would all be so 
disappointed ? Alas ! my poor Pe*ronne, if she is not 
cured she must come back to Annecy, for she will be 
useless to you and the change of air may be good for 
her. God knows how welcome she will be, but I 
fear you will miss her for your little manage: how 
ever, God will provide. 

I hope you will not give the habit to the good 
N. until she has completed her six months. If I 
have time I will write her a little note; if I cannot, 
her humility will bear with me, and her charity will 
be indulgent to me. I beg of her to ask God to 
grant me the grace of being entirely His. 

A thousand salutations, daughter darling, to you 
and all your dear flock (a little special word to our 
two).* Remembrance also to the Rev. Father 
Rector, to my dear nephew, and to whom else you 
please. Aye, truly sister de Gouffier may well be 
admired ! I shall write to her by the chaplain when 
he returns. She is only losing her time, and I am 
astonished that she has not written to me. Yes, 
indeed, she is losing her time. Adieu, my darling, 

this holy day of the Feast of St. Claude. 

Yours, etc. 

* Srs. P6ronne Marie de Chatel and Marie Aim6e dc Blonay. 



46 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



XIX. 

To Sister Marie Aimee de Blonay, Mistress of 
Novices at Lyons.* 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1616. 

Who can doubt, little one, but that a thousand 
imperfections are mingled with all our actions. We 
must humble ourselves and own to it, but never be 
surprised nor worry about it. Neither is it well to 

* We are told in the " History of the Foundation of 
Annecy " that Sister Marie Aimee de Blonay fulfilled her 
duties as Mistress of Novices with such submission and 
reverence as entirely to justify the beautiful name of " The 
Living Rule," by which she is known throughout the Order; 
for her actions and her teaching were a faithful carrying 
out of what she had learned from its two holy Founders. 
She often inculcated the following doctrine: " Just as the 
Gospel of Jesus Christ is, and always must be, the universal 
foundation of our obedience and of our belief, even though 
there were a million new worlds, so should the particular 
maxims of the Visitation of Annecy be common to all houses 
of the Institute, even though it should increase to millions 
upon millions of monasteries." It gave St. Francis such 
pleasure to hear this ingenious comparison of the Rule to 
the Gospel that he ordered the following to be inserted in 
the acts and conditions of establishment for every new 
foundation: " That the Sisters undertake to live according 
to the Rules, Constitutions, and customs of the Monastery 
of Annecy." And in answer to a letter about this time 
from his dear " Cadette," he says : " My daughter, make 
use of this light all your life. Tell what you have seen, 
teach what you have heard at Annecy. This root is indeed 
little, insignificant, and hidden, but the branch that 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 47 

play with the thought, but having made an interior 
act of holy humility, turn from it at once and pay no 
further attention to your feelings. Now let me hear 
no more about them, but use them all as a means of 
humbling yourself and of abasing yourself before 
God. Behave yourself in His presence as being 
truly nothing, and if you do, these feelings about 
which you talk will not do you any harm though 
they will make you suffer. Indeed, as much may 
be said of this fault of over-sensitiveness. Pray 
what does it matter whether you are dense and 
stolid or over-sensitive ? Any one can see that all 
this is simply self-love seeking its satisfaction. For 
the love of God let me hear no more of it: love 
your own insignificance and the most holy will of 
God which has allotted it to you, then whether you 
are liked or disliked, reserved or ready-tongued, it 
should be one and the same thing to you. Do not 
pose as an ignorant person, but try to speak to each 
one as being in the presence of God and in the way 
He inspires you. If you are content with what you 
have said your self-love will be satisfied, if not 
content, then you have an opportunity of practising 
holy humility. In a word aim at indifference and 

separates from it is fit for nothing but to be cut down and 
cast into the fire." 

The life of Mother Marie Aimee de Blonay was written 
by Charles Auguste de Sales, nephew and one of the 
successors of St. Francis de Sales in the See of Geneva. 



48 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



cut short absolutely this introspection and all these 
reflections you make on yourself. This I have told 
you over and over again. 

I can well believe that you are at a loss how to 
answer these young persons who want to know, 
forsooth, the difference between contemplation 
and meditation. How can it be, Sister (The 
Superior) puts up with them, or that you do in 
her absence? Sweet Jesus, what has become of 
humility ? Stop it all, and give them books and 
conferences treating of the virtues, and tell them 
that they must set about practising them. Later 
on they can talk about high things for by the 
exercise of true and solid virtue light comes from 
Him who is the Master of the humble, and whose 
delight it is to be with souls that are simple and 
innocent. At the end of all, when they have become 
Angels, they may talk as the Angels do. As to 
prayer, be at peace and do not attempt anything 
beyond keeping yourself tranquilly near Our Lord. 
This too I have often told you. In a word you are 
not to move any more than a statue can do. Your 
one wish ha- to be to give pleasure to God; now if 
He in His goodness shows you what you have to do, 
is it right for you to turn from this to do something 
else because this, His will, has no interest for you ? 
You must take care not to fall into this fault, but be 
simple; don t think much about yourself and just do 
the best you can. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 49 

You have thoroughly satisfied your self-love, in 
writing me this paper. However, I will not return 
it to you, although I think that were I to do so it 
would be a mortification to you. Live wholly with 
all simplicity in God. I have a great affection for 
Sister Barbe Marie.* Take care of her, teach her to 
restrain her over anxiety, which makes her so eager 
for her own advancement and for that of everybody 
else. 



XX. 

To the Same. 

Vive ^ Jesus! 

ANNECY. 

January, 1617. 

Truly, my dearest little one, you give me extreme 
pleasure by writing so fully and so simply. Always 
do so. I have shown your letter to his Lordship, 
who is very fond of you. God will be with you and 
all will go well. Never doubt but that divine Provi 
dence will guide and support you in all things, if you 
give yourself wholly into Its hands. Employ such 
little talents as you possess faithfully, and they will 
increase. For the rest what a pity it is that we 

* Madame la Pre sidente Le Blanc.who was converted from 
a life of worldliness by St. Francis de Sales, and became a 
great benefactress to the new Institute. When at Lyons 
she lived in the Convent like a religious, and wished to be 
called Sister Barbe Marie. 

4 



50 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

allow ourselves to be upset about what we are and 
how we perform our duties. Let us set about them 
with simplicity, looking unto God, trusting to His 
goodness, then all will be accomplished, all will be 
sanctified. 

How consoling it is to hear of your courageous 
postulants ! Salute all of them affectionately for 
me, but to your last novice I pray you to offer my 
heart, which I offer her to serve her and to love her 
perfectly in Our Lord. What you tell me in your 
letter of her fidelity to observance already gives me 
great consolation in her regard. 

Oh, Saviour of my soul ! how blessed it will be 
for her if she persevere ! I exhort all our dear 
novices to constancy, and I beg of them to take my 
word for it, that their peace will be perfect if they 
hold fast without swerving to the observance. May 
they forget themselves and all things else in order 
to achieve thoroughly this one thing, which is of so 
much importance. If they aim at it always faith 
fully and humbly, it will bring them inestimable 
happiness. 

Daylight is failing me, my daughter. 

Your very affectionate 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 51 

XXI. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at 
Lyons. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
loth April, 1617. 
MY MOST DEAR DAUGHTER, 

I am sending you back our good Sister 
(Madame Colin). I see nothing in her that merits 
rejection. Her manner is a little dry, but that is 
natural to her, and I think she will improve, for she 
is most anxious to be gracious. She certainly seems 
to me to have, in the service of God, a well-directed 
heart, and a well-disposed mind. She will give you 
all our news and tell you about his Lordship, who, I 
feel sure, is altogether overworked. She has seen 
how he is overwhelmed with business. Grenoble 
was the last straw, on account of the endless letters 
it has entailed; they are too much for him. If only 
those ladies would have a little more consideration 
and confine their correspondence with him to what 
is useful, or to their spiritual needs ! I am told that 
some of them will be visiting you. For God s sake 
see if through them you cannot discretely manage 
to curtail unnecessary appeals to him. You know 
how kind he is and how he never fails to send them a 
reply, although we are told that if he does not 
greatly retrench his correspondence it will have a 



52 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

very injurious effect on his health, and will shorten 
his days days which are wholly at the service of 
God and his neighbour. This is a matter which it 
seems to me ought to concern everybody: so I am 
writing to Dijon, Chambery, St. Catherine, and 
everywhere I can think of, to ask them to spare him 
as much as possible and only to write in cases of 
absolute necessity, or at least utility; for in such 
cases it cannot be avoided. 

No doubt you perceive that I am a little disturbed, 
and indeed I am; for this morning I heard several 
things about him which have greatly upset me, and 
you know how valuable his life is to us more it 
could not be. He will return next year to Grenoble. 
A great many people, and I believe half the diocese, 
regret it, especially M. de Boisy: but I do not, for it 
cannot be much prejudice to the bishopric, and is 
sure to be for God s glory, and he will, please God, 
reap a double harvest in this second visit. He 
greatly praises the goodness and piety of the people 
of Grenoble and particularly of the ladies. Poor 
Sister Barbe Marie arrived too late, but she made 
up for lost time and his Lordship has completely 
won her. 

This woman has an excellent heart. She it is, I 
am told, who ought to introduce the ladies to us. 
Encourage her as much as possible to establish the 
Visitation at Grenoble. It is really very wonderful 
how on all sides they are asking for us, and we have 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 53 

no desire to settle ourselves anywhere, except at 
Grenoble. Everything looks encouraging in that 
direction. The ladies there are enthusiastic to have 
a foundation. Recommend the affair to Our Lord, 
for it seems to me that it will be for His glory. Our 
dear Sister (Barbe Marie) will tell you everything. 
She has written to me three times since the return 
of his Lordship and I once to her. This is only fair, 
for she is not as busy as I am. She is quite devoted 
to you. Get a thurible made out of that beautiful 
cup; we often need one and have to inconvenience 
our neighbours by borrowing from them. Sell our 
watch, my child, to help to pay for the making of it. 
You will have to do this for we are short of money. 
Good Madame Colin insists on our keeping her 
watch, but I shall not do so on any account unless 
she consents to take the value of it. It keeps good 
time and we have much need of such a one. 

My poor dear Sister, I dearly love you. Live 
solely for God by giving yourself up entirely to His 
holy will and letting it act. Indeed, I long to do 
likewise and I pray God to let me die if I do not love 
Him henceforth with all my strength. Such is the 
desire of the miserable little heart of your poor 
Mother who has the toothache, so she must stop 
writing as soon as she has made up her mind what 
answer to give Monseigneur of Bourges. Our good 
Bishop will come for it this evening. We seldom, 
I assure you, see him now. But we do not mind so 



54 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

long as he can get through all his work. Would to 
God that I could relieve him of it ! 

Now this is the answer to the Archbishop of 
Bourges. Write to the grand-nephew as from your 
self and say that if the matter is urgent we shall find 
great difficulty in providing Sisters, not having any 
yet sufficiently trained. I believe that Monseigneur 
intends first sending Cardinal Bellarmine s letter to 
the Father Rector, and afterwards to his Grace of 
Lyons. . . . 

I can understand poor N. s temptation. Alas ! 
from what I hear the poor Sister seems quite to have 
gone astray. God grant she may get into the right 
way again. In conclusion, dear daughter, I hope 
you will not take too much to heart what I have said 
about his Lordship s correspondence, I acknowledge 
to have written forcibly because it is doing him so 
much harm. Yesterday I let him know that I was 
going to write all round in the hope of curtailing 
it, and he told me that I must not do so, for he 
could manage very well. You understand, dearest 
daughter, I am not addressing myself to you, nor to 
any of our Sisters, for I don t wish to stop them from 
writing to him when they require his advice. Oh, 
indeed I do not ! not them, nor any one. I only 
mean that discretion should be used in this matter. 

Adieu, my most dear daughter. I embrace you 
lovingly in spirit and am wholly yours in our sweet 
Saviour. Amen. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 55 

XXII. 
To the Same. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1617. 

I have three quarters of an hour free, my dearest 
daughter, and seize the opportunity to write to you. 
You have indeed given me very special pleasure by 
speaking a little of your beloved self and of your dear 
daughters. God be praised for all you tell me of 
both the one and the other. Oh ! my love, if you 
but persevere in serving our great and gentle 
Redeemer with the highest part of your soul, in 
different as you say to all that presents itself, true 
happiness will be yours. Souls who act thus are 
royal souls. May the divine Majesty give you the 
grace of faithful perseverance. 

You have done well to discontinue your retreat. 
I assure you I never undertake mine in the very hot 
weather on account of the great drowsiness which it 
causes. Well, if God wishes us to walk like one 
who is blind and groping in the dark, what does it 
matter ? We know that He is with us. 

I am surprised at what you tell me about Paris 
and Chalons,* we have heard nothing of it from any 
one else. It would be a great boon to us not to 
separate for a year : but the Holy will of God comes 

* Projected foundations in these towns. 



56 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

before all things, and grace urges us to the acceptance 
of it. If they send me, it will do me good to see you 
again. 

I do not quite know what to say of Sister *; 

tell me about her a little more in detail and of the 
effects on her of what she feels. 

Consult the Rev. Father Rector and get her to 
speak to him herself. She should certainly use 
every endeavour to hide what you tell me of, and 
should never abandon herself to it; but if there is 
humility and simple obedience we need have no 
anxiety. You should insist emphatically upon 
simplicity, truth, and straightforwardness in all her 
actions, above all when she has these consolations. 
But in a word, if she possesses virtue you need 
fear nothing, even though they may come from the 
evil spirit. Nature or the imagination would seem 
to me more dangerous. Speak of this, I beg of you, 
in her presence to the Father Rector. 

I assure you I am consoled to hear about little 
Orlandin. But the other little one, Raton, how is she 
going on ? My daughter, you do singularly well 
not to keep those girls that are unsuitable. Try to 
win over their friends so that they may be satisfied 
with our own choice of subjects, even though those 
we choose may not have much dowry. My God ! 
how important it is to have good subjects ! I shall 

* A Sister at Lyons who enjoyed great spiritual consola 
tions. Her name is not given. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 57 

be sorry if Sister N. goes, for I think that in time she 
may make a good novice mistress and so relieve that 
daughter* whose mind is so wearied by the charge. 
The continuance of this weariness of hers gives me 
pain. Oh ! my daughter, how true it is that we 
must be more than women to serve God above all 
natural humours and inclinations. Yet what happi 
ness so to subdue nature that grace reigns in its 
stead ! May it please the good God to assist us, for 
we can do nothing without His succour. 

I have just written a line to M. Austrain, who begs 
of us to keep his daughter at least till September. 
We will willingly do so for his sake, but I own to you, 
daughter, that she is no gain to us. f 

Still no news from Rome. I think His grace the 
ArchbishopJ would be glad to help us should this 
business be delayed. Beg of him, I beseech you, 
to push on the matter and above all by using the 
privileges which the Father Procurator says that 
he has obtained for us. It is really impossible to 

* Sister Marie Aimee de Blonay. 

f In another letter to Mother Favre, dated July 3rd, 
1617, Saint Jane Frances writes: " The little Christine is 
very much frightened at the prospect of returning to her 
father (M. Austrain), for she knows that he does not want 
her, and she dislikes still more the thought of going to St. 
Ursula. A lady came here from Neuville some time ago, 
and ever since the little Austrain has desired to be sent 
there. She is now imploring her father to let her go to that 
town. Help us, I beg of you, to get rid of her quietly and 
with courage." 

I Mgr. de Marquemont. 



58 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

submit to anything else. I think, daughter, that 
you will do well to write him a humble, dignified, 
earnest request on the subject, for I fear the Father 
Procurator may be a little slow in following it up: 
but write as from yourself. My child, I must con 
clude. May God be all to you. Amen. 

May His goodness be blessed. Believe me to be 
always devoted to you and Sister Barbe Marie and 
to all your daughters. ... My child, I write in 
such haste that I forget half of what I want to say. 
Yes, indeed, most willingly will we make a chalice 
veil for you, but not until the very hot weather is 
over, for one cannot work neatly while it lasts. I 
do not know if we have the silks: Sister Peronne 
Marie says we have not, but she will write to you 
about it. 

XXIII. 

To Mother Jeanne Charlotte de Brechard, Superior at 
Moulins. On the death of the Saint s daughter, 
Madame de Thorens* 

Vive >< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
September, 1617. 

Ah, Lord Jesus, grant that we may love Thee 
perfectly and Thee alone. His divine Goodness has 
truly pierced the depths of my heart, and I am 

* Marie Aimee de Chantal was born in 1593 ; married, in 
1609, Bernard de Sales, Baron de Thorens: died in 1617. 
In September of this year the young widow gave birth to a 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 59 

overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of my 
daughter de Thorens. Yet what can I do but lovingly 
kiss the dear hand that has given this terrible blow ? 
May it be blessed for ever ! Indeed, this daughter 
was as lovable and as sensible as could be found at 
her age. I admired her great virtue and was 
consoled to see her firm resolve to dedicate herself 
entirely to God. O good Jesus, I did not deserve 
to have such a companion, and perhaps it was not 
good for us to have in this life such enjoyment and 
such contentment as she and I had in one another s 
society. So she is happy in the sovereign good 
which I have always desired for her, and God has 
surrounded my affliction with so many mercies and 
favours that trying to forget myself in my righteous 
sorrow I bless and thank Him for a grace which I 
dearly prize.* 



daughter at the Visitation Monastery, Annecy, where she 
happened to be staying, and was unexpectedly taken ill. 
The infant only lived to receive baptism, and Marie Aimee 
died two days later, having made her profession in the 
Order on her deathbed. St. Francis de Sales, who received 
her vows, said he had never seen so holy a death. 
* The rest of this letter has been cut off. 



60 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



XXIV. 

To M. de Neucheze, the Saint s nephew. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
November 6th, 1617. 

I feel sure, my dearest nephew, that, alas ! you 
must already know of the death of my dear one.* 
Five days after her decease we announced the news 
to Mgr. of Bourges,| but I fear the letters may 
have been lost. It has truly, my child, been a great 
grief to me to be deprived of the presence of this 
dear, amiable daughter, but with all my heart I 
adore and embrace the divine will which has sent 
me this sorrow. There is much to console me in her 
happy and holy death, while I am almost in despair 
at the thought of the state of soul of your cousin.} 
So miserable am I about it that I do not know which 
way to turn, if not to the Providence of God, there 
to bury my longings, confiding to His hands not only 
the honour but even the salvation of this already 
half lost child. Oh ! the incomparable anguish of 
this affliction ! No other grief, my dearest nephew, 
can come near to it. If it were not that I am tied 

* The Saint s daughter, Madame de Thorens. 

I Archbishop of Bourges, brother of St. Jane Frances. 
M. de Neuchdze was Vicar-General and Chancellor of his 
Diocese. 

{ The Saint s son, Celse Benigne. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 61 

down here by a violent ague I would have already 
set out to be with him. I am asking him to come 
to me: if he does not, I beseech Mgr. of Bourges to 
find some pretext for visiting him, and for remaining 
with him till he comes to Nantua. Alas ! he must 
be helped. I implore of you to do all you can in 
the matter. I can say no more. I am overwhelmed 
with sorrow, and my tears blind me. Obtain for 
him the prayers of all those good souls who walk 
steadily in the fear of God. My salutations to all 
the household. My dearest nephew, may His good 
ness grant you all blessings. 

Believe me always your humble aunt and servant, 
Sister J. F. Fr6myot of the Visitation. 



XXV. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at 
Lyons. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 

2$th November, 1617. 

This severe mortification which the good N. has 
given you is, my dearest daughter, the fruit of the 
holy cross. Ah ! may God grant us the grace to 
profit by every mortification that He sends us. You 
are indeed blessed; for see how the divine Saviour 
lays on you burden upon burden. May His goodness 
give you His holy strength. He will do so, daughter, 



62 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

for with your whole soul you have given yourselt 
into the arms of divine Providence, and you have no 
other arms to bear you up arid no other breast on 
which to repose in love save His. Abide there as a 
gentle dove in all simplicity and tranquility, not 
making account of your afflictions but looking only 
at the Heart of Him who has sent them to you. 

Here we have truly shed many tears and prayed 
much for our dear one who is taken from us.* I 
have, however, much consolation; for could there 
have come a greater happiness to this pure and 
innocent soul than to meet her Saviour ? Rejoice 
in her repose, my dearest daughter. 

In order not to lose this opportunity of writing to 
you I am doing so without having given myself time 
to look over your letters again. Believe me, 
daughter, that if we are faithful to our vocation, 
and if in our little efforts we seek only the pure glory 
of God, His majesty will raise us up. 

His Lordship wishes us to make another attempt 
before sending to Rome M. de Saint e-Catherine, who 
will be an admirable agent. God will help us, 
daughter, but we must keep lowly and patient and 
let ourselves be trampled under foot. His Lordship 
hopes that this new petition, supported by our 
Rules and the testimonials, will settle the matter. 
If the Archbishop thinks well to write a new letter 
of recommendation, from himself, to this gentleman 
* Madame de Thorens, the Saint s daughter. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 63 

who is acting for him, it is quite as it should be, so 
long as this gentleman acts in unison with the Father 
Procurator of the Barnabites. But to ask him to 
send these attestations to the house of Lyons would, 
I think, be loss of time, as they have already been 
sent here. The Prince, on his side, has heard that 
the matter is being taken up warmly. Ah ! well, 
we have done what we can, and the success of it we 
must leave to the Providence of God and ask Him 
to guide and fashion this work according to His holy 
will. I hope we shall have some news in a few weeks. 

His Lordship left us yesterday, and he asked me 
to send you his apologies for not having written to 
you, but he will write from Grenoble. He is abso 
lutely overwhelmed with business. We spoke of 
our vow of obedience, and he believes it to be 
pleasing to God. He asked me how you bore that 
sharp mortification; but alas ! I could not tell him. 

Yes, my dear daughter, we read the Catechism to 
the Sisters four times a week,* and if any one wants 
to know over and above what is in the book I check 
her, saying that she and I must submit our under 
standings to what we read without questioning 

* St. Jane Frances insistence on the simple Catechism 
instructions was peculiarly applicable to the time in which 
she lived, for the Jansenist heresy, added to the errors 
of Protestantism, gave rise to a subtle and questioning 
attitude of mind, and women, misled by their masters in 
error, set themselves up as Doctors in the new heretical 
schools of learning. 



64 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

beyond, and this I find does much good, for such as 
we are very ignorant. 

Thank you a thousand times for the beautiful wax 
candles. They are most acceptable, but one lasts 
for a whole year. We have never seen the blessed 
grains of incense. 

Please forward the packet from Dole at once, and 
securely. There is one from his Lordship from 
Paris. My darling, I am wholly yours and salute 
you all. 

This St. Catherine s Day. 



XXVI. 

To Madame de la 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1617. 

Oh ! may our most good and sweet Saviour be the 
strength and life of your soul, which is dear to me in 
very truth beyond all others, with, as you know, one 

* In writing to a mutual friend, M. Philippe de Quoex, 
St. Francis de Sales says of Madame de la Flechdre: " With 
the exception of Madame de Chantal I do not think that I 
have ever met in any woman a soul stronger, a mind more 
reasonable, a humility more sincere." Madame de la 
Flechere lived at Rumilly, and was a lifelong friend of St. 
Jane Frances, to whom she gave her chateau for a Visita 
tion foundation, which Convent her daughter Franoise de 
la Flechere in later years governed. Madame de la Flechere 
was received into the Order on her deathbed. 

There are no less than sixty letters extant from St. 
Francis de Sales to Madame de la Flechdre. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 65 

exception, which does not bear comparison. Ah ! 
my Sister, let us by faithful obedience press forward, 
enlarging our love for this all lovable Saviour. No, 
we have it not in our power to render Him a service, 
we are of too small account for that, but in the name 
of His Goodness let us do all we can to please Him, 
depending on Him, and on His Providence, so that 
it may be our sole support. I have no time to 
write, but I must send you this line to content my 
own heart and to salute yours. Adieu, and good 
morning, my Sister all dear to me. 

XXVII. 

To Sister Paule Jdronyme de Monthoux,* Mistress 
of Novices at Annecy. 

Vive >J Jesus ! 

GRENOBLE, 1618. 

I have received all your letters, my poor dear 
daughter; they came in two sets and you have had 

* Sister Paule Jeronyme de Monthoux de Annemasse 
was the first Superior of the foundation of Nevers, 1620, and 
in 1625 of that of Blois. Her biographer, Mother de Chaugy, 
tells us that in the houses she founded the virtues of 
simplicity, poverty, and humility were so successfully 
implanted by her that it could truly be said: " The work 
man is recognized in the perfection of his work." She died 
at Blois in 1661, where her memory was held in such 
veneration that a tombstone was erected in her honour, 
half of which tombstone was in the Nun s choir and half 
in the secular chapel, in order thus to satisfy the devotion 
of the people. 

5 



r 

66 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



replies to the first five, but I still have four by me 
with questions to answer. 

There is no doubt whatever that the novices should 
have recourse to their Mistress in every matter, 
which the Rule says they are to treat with her, and 
it is but fitting that they should be as exact as possi 
ble on this point. Sister Assistant should give her 
instructions through you : for to act otherwise would 
be very prejudicial to them. 

Yes, you do well to tell me the more important 
things, but you do wrong to call me a Saint. Take 
it to confession, and never do it again. My God ! 
I am nothing but a sink of miseries. 

You are right to devote yourself as much as 
possible to your duties in the novitiate. The body 
is indeed a poor thing, yet be careful to do nothing 
to injure your health. May God bless your remedies, 
though I very much doubt their curing you: how 
ever, in all things we must look solely for His good 
pleasure. You are quite wrong, my daughter, in 
thinking that Sister Assistant is not altogether open 
with you. Do not make such reflections and don t 
hesitate about taking your own line. Has not good 

M. the Senator been right ? Remember me 

most affectionately and respectfully to him. Mean 
time I am very much concerned about your illness. 
You ought to consult the doctor and do whatever 
he tells you. Salute the good man cordially 
for me. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 67 



How is it the infirmarian never gives me one word 
of news ? Well, my dear, I am very fond of her all the 
same. I beg of her to gain the mastery over that 
heart of hers so that she may train herself to gentle 
ness and simple observance; however, I will tell this 
dear daughter, Marie Adrienne (Fichet), of this 
myself. I am glad that you are employing little 
Sister Francoise Marguerite (Favrot). Test her 
well so that she may advance in the virtues of 
religion. 

If these dear novices hold fast to all that is marked 
down for them, and I entreat them to do so, they 
will make great progress. Do not be afraid to write 
quite candidly to me; letters are slow but sure in 
coming. I wish you could be a little clearer and 
more detailed in speaking of the causes which 
prevent the Superior from being quite fitted for her 
office; I thought they were exterior rather than 
interior. Ah ! what a pity that our negligence should 
be of such prejudice to the service of our good God. 
Write openly and walk faithfully in uprightness, 
simplicity, and great gentleness, bearing with your 
neighbour, and supporting her without stint. Seek 
God in all things and be faithful to Him. He looks 
to the intention. Speak out boldly, with entire 
confidence to our good M. Michel; he is a good and 
sincere man. Adieu, my daughter. May the great 
Jesus make you all His own. Amen. 



68 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



XXVIII. 

To M. Michel Favre, Confessor to St. Francis de 
Sales, and to the Religious of the Visitation at 
Annecy. 

Vive tp Jesus ! 

GRENOBLE, 1618. 

Most truly, good Father and dear son, do I long 
for leisure to write as my heart dictates to you, but 
it is impossible. My feelings towards you are those 
of a mother, and greatly have you consoled me by 
your kindness in telling me how God has made 
known His will to those two dear sisters who aspire 
to Him and find their rest in His paternal bosom. 
It gives me ineffable consolation, seeing that I myself 
have this same attraction, but I should like to know 
the very words that were communicated to them so 
that I may feed my soul upon them. This I say 
from my heart. Give me then this satisfaction, and 
do you also nourish yourself with this sacred manna. 
Truly having this, how can we seek elsewhere for 
other place of security and rest ? 

Alas ! dear Father, how pitiable are our infirmities 
and imperfections ! These two Sisters appear to me 
to be unduly observant of one another. They have 
this defect by nature, and I think it better that I 
should not tell them of it, lest they suffer from 
jealousy, both having so much affection for me and 
such a desire to please me; but if you put it before 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 69 



them and induce them to be more simple, cordial, 
and open with one another that is all that is needed 
to set matters right, for I plainly see that each fears 
to do wrong. Sister Assistant, who seems to me the 
least in fault, ought to divert Sister N. s mind, and 
be trustful and more companionable, compassionately 
bearing with her, and in this way draw her out of her 
melancholy. That is how I should act, and by so 
doing I have often relieved and cured souls : warming 
their hearts with confidence, talking over matters 
with them quite openly, while consulting them as if 
I had need of their advice, and trusting them; yet 
referring neither to their state of melancholy, nor to 
the subjects on which they philosophize; neither to 
their difficulties nor to the concerns of their neigh 
bour. In a word, let these sisters act as charity will 
teach them, if they but ask Our Lord. For, as our very 
dear Lord * said to me yesterday, " It is to the humble 
souls that the divine Goodness gives true wisdom." 
Verily, if there is any lack of conformity to the 
teachings of our Institute it is most improper that 
the sister novices should know of it. This is a thing 
of importance, and is too serious to be dealt with 
merely as we may feel inclined. The Mistress should 
lead the Novices according to the ordinary exercises 
of the house, and if on some occasion she differs in 
opinion as to these, she should communicate with 
the Superior, and learn from her how to act. But 
* St. Francis de Sales. 



70 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



for ordinary things, when the sisters who are under 
the charge of the Mistress come to speak to the 
Superior of their interior state and their difficulties 
she should, before answering, ask them if they have 
spoken to their Mistress and what she said on the 
subject. If their Mistress has wisely instructed, let 
her confirm what the Mistress has said, and en 
courage them to follow her direction ; if, on the con 
trary, the Mistress has led them astray she ought 
not to let the novice know it, but put her imper 
ceptibly on the right way, and then go herself to the 
Mistress, talk the matter over with her, instructing 
her, and instilling into her a desire to serve the 
Sisters affectionately. To me it seems always better, 
when necessary, to nourish the esteem and confidence 
of the novices for their Mistress. I should like the 
Superior to speak to them as far as possible only 
through her, except when the Rule ordains other 
wise. But I have already written so much about 
this that I hope it will be done; for I certainly see 
that our Sister Assistant has an excellent heart. 
She must be encouraged to get out of herself, and to 
seek the advancement and repose of the Sisters with 
simplicity and integrity: only speaking to them for 
this end, and to console them : for sometimes for our 
own satisfaction we have an awkward way of teasing 
and worrying others by inopportunely returning to a 
subject which we should never do if we gave our 
selves time to reflect. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 7! 

I write to you as to a trusty friend. Manage it 
all, very dear Father, as you think best. It seems 
to me that if you do it as coming from yourself it 
will be better received than if they thought you had 
complained to me, or than if I said it myself. 

Certainly this life is full of mortifications, there 
fore it is necessary to keep ourselves above it, looking 
for a better life in which you will clearly see how 

sincerely I am, 

Yours, etc. 

XXIX. 

To Sister Anne Marie Rosset, Assistant at Annecy. 

Vive tfa Jesus ! 

GRENOBLE, 1618. 

It will be a great comfort to you, my very dear 
Sister, to see His Lordship,* and to hear that all the 
people here expect to become more fervent in the 
service of Our Lord by means of this house. God 
grant it may be so ! What a consolation it is to 
hear that Sister Paule Jeronyme is fulfilling so well 
her very important charge. I hope all our dear 
Sisters will by a faithful and strict observance of 
our holy Rules advance every day in the way of 
Our Lord. To this fidelity, in the name of our 
sweetest Saviour, I exhort them, and I embrace 
them all in spirit with true and most sincere love. 
They should continue as the Rule teaches, and with 

* St. Francis de Sales left Grenoble to return to Annecy 
just at this time. 



72 SELECTED LETTERS OP 

earnestness, to pray for the health and the growth 
in holiness of his Lordship. And let them neither 
forget us, nor the other new and dear foundations 
that are being planted here and there by the hand 
of Our Lord; for these ought to be as dear to us as 
our own, since it is the divine Will that we dwell in 
perfect union of heart, as by the grace of God we do. 
Salute all our friends for me, especially dear Madame 
de la Valbonne, not forgetting my poor old Sister 
Anne Jacqueline, nor my friends the workmen, for 
whom I have a great liking. 

XXX. 

To Sister Paul Jeronyme de Monthoux, Mistress of 
Novices at Annecy. 

Vive *%* Jesus ! 

GRENOBLE, 
26th April, 1618. 

MY POOR JERONYME, 

I know all about your little difficulties with 
good Sister Assistant. You were like two children, 
but I see by your last letter you are now simple and 
frank as children ought to be with one another. 
What pleasure this gives me ! It is just how I desire 
to see the heart of my dearest little Jeronyme. You 
must keep it up and make no reflections whatever 
on the past. As it helps you so much to tell me 
about your troubles, do so, my daughter, for I am 
very glad to know them. You will have to be very 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 73 

very generous in bearing with yourself and with 
others. Certainly, speak out fearlessly, in a spirit 
of charity and cordial confidence, to Sister Assistant 
of all you think proper. God be praised for the 
satisfactory way in which your dear novices are 
getting on. You should be continually helping them 
to advance, but do it gently, and bear with the little 
weaknesses which are in some. Yes, the Mistress 
can speak to them when necessary at their assembly 
and can send a young professed sister to fetch her 
work. Their letters ought to be given to her, who 
can doubt it ? She can also speak to the novices 
during great silence but not without necessity. 
Should the number in the novitiate be considerable 
you must, in a spirit of charity, take what time you 
think necessary to satisfy them. I have a great 
affection for you, child. No, no; you must not say 
to the Sister Assistant, " Our Mother would not do 
that," unless it be in council, and then only if 
necessary and with great respect. 

XXXI. 

To Madame de la Flecker e. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

BOURGES, 
2nd February, 1619. 

Only one word, my dearest Sister, for it is not long 
since I wrote to you, and I await good news of you. 
My own, thank God, is good. Our little house goes 



74 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



on peaceably, its good odour increasing. As to my 
children, I hope my daughter s marriage with M. de 
Foras will soon be arranged, and that she will settle 
in Burgundy.* 

My son f gives me as keen a sorrow as ever a mother 
could suffer the cause I will tell you when we meet . 
He is at court, brave and gallant as he can be, and 
they tell me, that he is resolved to conduct himself 
well and to make his fortune. My own wish is that 
he should do so with our good Prince, but I know 
not what he will do. My dear Father will help him. 
I am overwhelmed with letters that have to be 
answered, so I must conclude. O, my very dear 
vSister, may the great Jesus be our only love ! 
Amen. 

* This marriage never took place, for, though St. Jane 
Frances desired it, Fran9oise could not make up her mind 
to accept the gentleman. 

f Celse Benigne, in whose character good and bad 
qualities were so mingled that he was at once the joy and 
the anguish of his mother, each time he risked the life of 
both his soul and body by the unfortunate duels in which 
he was so often engaged, nearly broke her heart. In 
order to avoid the seductions of Paris and the dangerous 
influence of his friends, the Saint was anxious to have him 
attached to the Court of Savoy, but her project did not 
find favour with the young Baron. 



St. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 75 

XXXII. 

To Mother Jeanne Charlotte de Brechard, Superior at 
Moulins. 

Vive >p Jesus ! 

PARIS, 

July gth, 1619. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

This is only a line to announce the arrival of 
a good young lady* whom his Lordship and I are 
sending to you. She needs a home to retire to, and 

* The lady so charitably recommended to Mother de 
Brechard was Mademoiselle de Morville (Madame du 
Tertre) . Left a widow at twenty-two, she had long before 
given herself up to a life of vanity and worldly pleasure. 
Her parents, anxious to safeguard her honour and the 
future of her children, procured for her an introduction to 
St. Francis de Sales, who was then in Paris. The result of 
this acquaintance was that Madame du Tertre quickly 
renounced her unedifying life and asked to be admitted into 
a Visitation Monastery, not as an aspirant to religious life 
but as a secular benefactress. 

Thinking it desirable to remove her to a distance from 
Paris, where the temptations to return to her former life 
might prove too strong for one so weak and so recently 
converted, St. Francis arranged with her family and with 
Mother de Chantal to ask Mother de Brechard to give her a 
home in her convent. His solicitude was ill repaid. This 
volatile and mischievous young woman brought endless 
bitterness to his heart, and to that of St. Jane Frances, 
while she was the source of misery and contention in the 
community in which she lived. In due time, acting upon 
the advice of their holy Founder, who was ever too hopeful 
in his views about Madame du Tertre, she was allowed to 
make her profession, but she soon relapsed into her former 



76 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

ardently desires to find it with us. Now, as we can 
not have her here, we hope you will welcome her 
and look after her lovingly and charitably. She is 
a lady of quality and can give a good pension. She 
will not come to you for a fortnight, so that you may 
have time to get everything suitably ready for her. 
See that she has a little room with a very neat and 
comfortable bed and all things as we are accustomed 
to have them. Adieu, she will give you all our news. 
Do not expect his Lordship for the clothing ceremony. 
Alas ! this good and dear Father feels far from well. 
Pray for him. I wrote to you the other day. 

XXXIII. 

To Mother Peronne Marie de Chdtel, Superior at 
Grenoble. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 1619. 

You ask me, my dear daughter, if we are poor. 
Yes, indeed we are, but I hardly ever give it a 
thought. Heaven and earth may pass away, but 
the word of God remains eternally as the foundation 
of our hope. He has said that if we seek His kingdom 
and His justice all the rest shall be added unto us. 

disedifying and uncontrolled manner of living, thereby 
becoming the cause of great suffering to the Institute. A 
letter of St. Jane Frances shows that her repentance at 
the end was genuine, and that she died happily in peace 
with God. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 77 

I believe Him, and I trust in Him. The extreme 
necessity in which we sometimes find ourselves gives 
us opportunities of practising holy confidence in 
God and rare perfection. Truly we already see how 
wise it is to adhere to Him and to hope in Him 
against all human hope, for our foundation has been 
a thousand times more successful than we dared to 
anticipate. 

XXXIV. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at 
Lyons. 

Vive tfc Jesus ! 

PARIS, 
September 29, 1619. 

What a great consolation for you, my very dear 
daughter, to have the joy of a little visit from our 
dearest Father ! It is such a relief that he is out of 
Paris, where the epidemic* is so bad that his 
departure was a delight to me. Although it sur- 

* We read in the inedited " Foundations of the First 
Monastery of Paris": " In the years 1619 and 1620 God 
permitted a terrible plague to break out in Paris. Terror 
drove away not only the court but almost the entire popu 
lation, who sought safety in flight. So deserted did this 
great city become that we are told the grass grew in the 
streets. As might be expected in such circumstances, the 
alms upon which our newly established Community sub 
sisted entirely ceased, and to add to our misfortunes we 
were surrounded by infected houses. All day long we 
could hear the tinkle of the little bell that announced the 
passing of the death waggon in front of the house." 



78 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

rounds us do not fear for us, daughter, only pray 
earnestly that we may accomplish the most holy 
will of our good God. I have every confidence that 
nothing will happen but what is His good pleasure, 
and what pleases Him pleases us. So if it is His 
will I shall often write to you, and I will address all 
my letters to his Lordship, who has desired me to 
keep him well acquainted with our news. I wish 
you could find out the best address for our letters 
and tell me also how you will send yours. It would 
be well to take advantage of M. Rousselet when he 
returns to this town, for he has a brother at Lyons. 
I do not give you any news, dear daughter, for I 
have commissioned my nephew de Boisy to do it; 
and besides, you know it is a thing which is distaste 
ful to me. One thing only is necessary to possess 
God, and for this I have a burning desire. This 
alone is happiness. All the rest is mere smoke. 
Cling then with constancy to this holy aim. Write 
to me of your interior state: you will be reviewing 
it now.* O God, how I love that heart of my great 
and dear daughter ! I long to see it generous, pure, 
perfect, in a word united in a holy union with the 
Heart of its amiable and adorable God. Adieu, my 
daughter, a thousand good mornings to you and to 
your dear flock. I do not know if his Grace of 
Lyons has returned: he will mayhap want to delay 

* The autumn has always been the season appointed for 
the annual Retreats of the Sisters of the Visitation. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 79 

the change of your congregation into a monastery.* 
It is, however, expedient that it should be done 
before you are taken away. His Lordship will speak 
to you of this. But it must be managed very tact 
fully. One word in conclusion. Test your daughters 
well before their profession. 

Adieu, my daughter. I am always yours in Our 
Lord. You know this. May He be blessed ! St. 
Michael s Day. 

XXXV. 

To Sister Marie- Avoye Humbert, at Moulins. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 1619. 

I want you to know, my dear little daughter, what 
a great consolation your letter has been to me. You 
have portrayed your interior state with much 
simplicity, and believe me, little one, I tenderly love 
that heart of yours and would willingly undergo 
much for its perfection. May God hear my prayer, 
and give you the grace to cut short these perpetual 
reflections on everything that you do. They dissi 
pate your spirit. May He enable you instead to use 
all your powers and thoughts in the practice of such 

* The Archbishop of Lyons, Mgr. de Marquemont, 
although the first to urge that the Visitation should have 
enclosure and solemn vows, was the last to put in force the 
Bull erecting it into a Religious Order. He held back in 
the hope of inducing the house at Lyons to undertake 
the reciting of the great Canonical Office. 



8o SELECTED LETTERS OF 

virtues as come in your way. How happy would 
you then be, and I how consoled ! Make a fresh 
start in good earnest, my darling, I beg of you. For 
faults of inadvertence and suchlike, humble yourself 
in spirit before God, and after that do not give them 
another thought. You will do this, will you not, 
my love ? Ah, do ! I ask it through the love you 
bear to your poor mother. For the rest, say out 
boldly eve^thing in your letters; they always con 
sole me. Let nothing worry you. Always yours 
in sincerity. Pray much for me. May the sweet 
Jesus accomplish in you His holy will ! 



XXXVI 

To the Sisters of the Visitation of Bourges. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 
October 3, 1619. 

MY BELOVED DAUGHTERS, 

The affection I bear you is my only motive 
in striving to serve and console you : I need no other 
spur, for that one is boundless. But God does not 
intend that we should see each other for the present, 
and we willingly submit our desires to His holy will. 
Meanwhile, let us prepare ourselves by a greater 
fidelity to observance to profit by the occasion should 
He arrange a meeting for us. 

Above all things, dear daughters, dwell together, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 81 



I beseech of you, in a great and magnanimous love 
of His holy will, and a gentle mutual support of 
one another, which will ravish the HEART 01 the 
sovereign Goodness: for our good Saviour has said 
that it is by our love for one another that we shall 
be recognized as His disciples. 

No leisure for more I recommend myself to your 
prayers. May God dwell habitually in your midst 
and heap upon you His choicest graces ! 

Yours always in Him. May He be blessed ! 



XXXVII. 

To the Sisters of the Visitation of Moulins. 

Vive ^ J^sus ! 

PARIS, 
December i^th, 1619. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTERS, 

We are now beginning a new year, and with 
my whole heart I come to beg a favour of you. For 
the sake of the honour and privilege of being 
daughters of Our Lady will you not grant it to me ? 
for all the affection of which I am capable is bound 
up in the asking. It is this, to make a strong and 
effectual resolve to walk in the way of exact obser 
vance, obeying simply, in all humility and meek 
ness. 

In the name of God, let not self-conceit be seen 
amongst you, nor desire of offices, nor of high places ; 



82 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

but rather, in the knowledge of your own weaknesses 
and miseries, cultivate a great love of humiliations, 
of self-abasement, and of all things lowly. Never 
use sharp words one to another. Holy gentleness, 
cordiality, and union of heart should reign instead 
among you, so that a gracious affability may season 
all your words and actions, and no shadow of 
repugnance ever show itself. Do not think about 
whether you are loved more or less than another. 
Kill such little foxes, I pray you, for they will steal 
away the peace of your hearts. We should never 
desire to be loved, but believe that we get as much 
affection as God sees good for us. 

Never make questions as to whom the charges are 
given ; never desire them. The divine will ought to 
be the rule of our will and enough for us. Now, 
my dear Sisters, give the Holy Virgin, our Lady, the 
pleasure of seeing you serve our sweet Master, her 
dear Son, by being faithful to these little counsels 
which I give on their part, and in their presence. 
I ask this of you through the infinite goodness of 
the Son and Mother, while I beseech them to grant 
you a superabundance of graces and their eternal 
benediction. Amen. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 83 



XXXVIII. 

To Mother Peronne-Marie de Chdtel,* Superior at 
Grenoble, 

Vive *%4 Je sus ! 

PARIS, 
January i$th t 1620. 

Ah ! how is it, my darling, my dearest daughter, 
that you expect a severe letter from me ? I tell 
you candidly, and glory be to God for it, your heart 
is too good to deserve scolding, and even if it were 
not, I have no inclination to scold. In a letter which 
I received from his Lordship speaking of the houses 
(of the Institute) that he has visited, he says: " To 
speak quite openly, at Grenoble I have found one 
who is a Superior altogether after my own heart." 
Now, you may imagine, my daughter, what good it 
did my heart to hear this. Yes, indeed I love you 
very dearly, but I can give you no better advice than 
to walk straight on in your own path, which is a 
good one, without turning to right or left. You 
are wonderful in the way you complain of yourself. 
Remember, that if God permits you to be so un 
faithful, He allows these little negligences so that 

* Such was the reputation for fervour of the Monastery of 
Grenoble that many distinguished members of the Society 
of Jesus, and of other Orders, spoke of it as a " Furnace of 
Prayer," and a " School of Virtues," but the humility of 
Mother de Chatel hid from her the great work that God was 
accomplishing through her means in her own community. 



84 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

you may always have wherewith to humble your 
self. When God consoles you receive His consola 
tions quite simply, accepting alike good and ill. 
In a word, my daughter, you must unite yourself 
to God in everything, and by everything, and lead 
your daughters in the same way. As to a spiritual 
Father, nothing more can be done. You must 
continue to have patience for a little longer and God 
will provide you with one. Meanwhile be all things 
to your daughters, and then all will go well. It is 
a great consolation to hear that they are so good. 
Oh ! Lord Jesus, pour down Thy graces upon this 
chosen company. Pray much for us. The choice 
of a house here depends upon his Lordship, and we 
are at our wits end to find a suitable one; however, 
we hope to be settled this summer. Well, my 
daughter, God alone suffices; were He our only con 
solation, and did we never wish for any other, how 
happy we should be ! Let us hold to this, for 
nothing else matters. Adieu, my love. Pray, and get 
prayers for my children, I beseech you. You are 
most truly, believe me, the very dear daughter of 
my heart. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 85 

XXXIX. 

To Mademoiselle de Chantal. 

[The Saint tells her daughter of M. de Toulonjon s pro 
posal of marriage.] 

Vive ^ Je"sus ! 

PARIS, 1620. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Let us bless God who takes such care of His 
children who trust in Him. His divine Providence 
is arranging for you something that I think you will 
like: and for my part, it is altogether desirable to me. 
Your brother is going to see you and he will tell you 
about the gentleman,* whom you do not know but 
who has seen you. He is our neighbour at Monthe- 
lon, a fine straightforward, brave gentleman, rich 
too, and with a very well-appointed house. We are 
extremely pleased at the honourable way in which 
he comes to make his courtship. Tell me promptly 
and candidly, I beg of you, my dear daughter, if 
your affections are free, for if so, and that you 
continue as reasonable and submiss ve as you 
promised me to be in your last letter, you will be 
happier than you or I could have dreamt of. For 
the love of God, my darling, put your whole heart 
entirely into the hands of God and don t let yourself 
be prejudiced by any foolish talking, or taken up 
with silly thoughts and apprehensions. Let us act, 

* M. de Toulonjon. 



86 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

for your happiness is dearer to us than it is to 
yourself. 

If it please the great God to bring this affair to a 
satisfactory termination, verily you will be happy 
and well pleased, for this gentleman is all that I 
could desire for you. All the rest I leave for your 
brother to tell you. Do not speak about this matter 
to anyone, but pray and send me your answer as 
soon as you can. Now don t fail to do so. Write 
by two routes and promptly. In fifteen days I shall 
send to the coach office for your answer, and I beg 
of you to have it there for me. As regards other 
business, I have already asked you to urge M. 
Coulon to sell Foretz. Be sure to see to this; for we 
must have three thousand crowns in ready money, 
as I have promised that sum. Arrange that M. 
Coulon pays you in full, at latest within six months ; 
urge him, and be careful to see that there is no un 
necessary expenditure. I write in the greatest 
haste. God bless you, my child. Unite with me in 
praising and blessing Him always. I shall settle 
things to your best advantage, so have no fear, 
dearest daughter. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 87 

XL. 

To Mother Jeanne Charlotte de Brechard, Superior at 
Moulins. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 
March I2th, 1620. 

I know well, my dearest Sister, how deeply you 
felt the news of my son s accident,* for your heart 
is so full of love for me that all my sorrows are 
sorrows to you. I did not mention it when writing 
because I did not think of it. God has given me the 
grace not to be very much upset by this news, which 
was broken to me bluntly enough. Indeed, it was 
an unlooked for happening, and one in which a wiser 
man than he could not have refused to come to the 
assistance of an injured friend. Such is the way of 
the world. All the same he got into trouble about 
it, without, however, being too much inconvenienced, 
and the affair is now all settled. The good gentle 
man whom the sergeant tried to take away was 
badly wounded and has not yet recovered; but 
thank God all the rest are on their feet again. 

Your prayers will be of use to my son and he needs 
them. We are thinking of marrying my daughterf 

* The young Baron de Chantal had just been compro 
mised, not in a duel, but in one of those sudden assaults 
so common at that period, in which he took part in order to 
defend a friend who had been attacked. 

f Fran9oise de Chantal. 



88 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

to M. de Toulon j on, the brother of Mme. de la 
Poivriere. The matter has been proposed to us 
through M. Dautesy. My nephew d Effran and my 
son know him well, and they consider it a very 
advantageous match for my daughter and advise me 
not to refuse. The gentleman declared his intentions 
most honourably and with all deference. He is a 
frank, honest man. 

Do not speak of this for the present, my love, but 
pray about it, for I fear my daughter s irresolution. 
She is a painful anxiety to me. 

Our M. Lefevre has not come; if you can tell me 
where he is staying I would invite him, or indeed 
beg of him to come here; however, the chancellor is 
very likely to be with the King. 

The girl I proposed to you as a lay sister lives near 
Moulins, but if you have others whom you yourself 
know, do not trouble about her, it does not signify. 
Your plan of treating with the Sisters for the Nevers 
foundation is, I consider, admirable. They have 
done the same at Orleans. But, my dear friend, see 
that everything is on a very secure footing and only 
treat with good subjects, such as you know they 
ought to be. For the rest visit and find out all 
about the place they propose selling to you before 
you purchase it, and arrange, if you can, as they 
have done at Orleans, to purchase in case it proves 
suitable, and if not desirable as a permament resi 
dence, to rent it. What you tell me about the 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 89 

Carmelites wishing to take it keeps me in a state 
of uncertainty, for they are extremely prudent and 
have very competent people to help them. But the 
good Father of our Sisters (Bonsidat) can do much 
with the advice of the Jesuits. I think, or rather I 
fear, they may be very glad to put us off now that 
the Carmelites are coming. Indeed, we must put 
the affair into the hands of God and follow good 
counsel as you are doing. You should make quite 
certain of the consent of the gentlemen of Nevers 
and of the authorities of the town before taking the 
Sisters there; for this reason we must obtain it, at 
latest, by Easter, as it is so far from Nessy, and I 
think those for Orleans will be sent by Pentecost. 
By the way, you have not told me if they have sent 
you a mistress of novices; but as dear Sister Marie 
Helene (de Chastellux) is doing so well I think you 
might do with her. Certainly, my child, if the 
Superior of Nevers is from Nessy that is enough. 
Don t urge Mgr. of Lyons, but let him do as he likes. 
Your spiritual Father can give permission for the 
departure of the Sisters. 

You see I am writing in breathless haste. We are 
always overwhelmed with work here; but to-day it 
is because I have a heavy cold for which I was bled 
yesterday. You know how subject I am to these 
colds, but you need not be in the very least anxious 
about me. Would to God, my dearest friend, that you 
kept as well as I do, and that they took as much 



90 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

care of you ! It distresses me that you have no one 
to look after you. May God in His goodness provide 
you with someone ! Take what care you can of 
yourself, I beseech you. 

I have had no news of his Lordship for a long time, 
but I know he is quite well. Thank God, I think he 
will soon go to Piedmont. M. de Boisy is coadjutor 
in the bishopric of Geneva. No more time. I 
salute your dear family and your hostess. I cannot 
write more. Good-bye, my dearest and best of 
daughters, for whom I have such a special love. 
Urge on your daughters gently in the way of holy 
tranquillity and recollection. Amen. 



XLI. 

To Mademoiselle de Chantal. 



PARIS, 1620. 

Listen to this, daughter dear. M. de Toulonjon 
finds himself free for eight or ten days, and off he is 
going to know whether you consider him too old to 
please you; for as regards everything else he is in 
hopes of finding favour with you. As for me, to be 
candid with you I see nothing to find fault with in 
him, and even nothing more to wish for. I never 
before remember feeling such satisfaction about a 
temporal matter. Our Lord has given me this 
feeling. It is not so much this gentleman s good 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 91 

nature and good birth that attracts me as his mind, 
disposition, candour, his good sense, uprightness, 
and reputation. In a word, my dear Franoise, we 
may well bless God about this affair. In gratitude 
to Him, my child, you should try to love and serve 
Him better than you have ever done and to let 
nothing whatsoever prevent you from frequenting 
the sacraments and from practising humility and 
gentleness. Take the Devout Life for your guide 
and it will lead you safely. Do not lose your time 
over such little vanities as jewels and clothes. You 
are about to possess them in abundance, but, dear 
daughter, never forget that we should use the good 
things God gives us without being attached to them, 
and everything that the world esteems should be 
looked upon in this light. Henceforth, let your 
ambition be to be adorned with honour and modest 
discretion in the position into which you are about 
to enter. Indeed I am gratified that your relatives 
and I have arranged this marriage without you. It 
is thus that the wise act, and I should like always 
to be your counsellor. Besides, your brother, who 
has a good judgment, is charmed with this alliance. 
M. de Toulonjon it is true is some fifteen years your 
senior, but, my child, you will be far happier with 
him than if you married a foolish, inconsiderate 
young scamp such as are the young men of to-day. 
You are marrying a man who is nothing of all this, 
who never gambles, but who has passed his life at 



92 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

court and in the battlefield with honour and who has 
a high appointment from the King. You will not 
have the good judgment with which I credit you if 
you do not receive him cordially and frankly. Do 
so, my daughter, with a good grace, and be assured 
that God has you in His mind and will not forget you 
if you throw yourself tenderly into His arms, for He 
takes care of those who trust in Him. 



XLII. 

To Sister Marie-Marthe Legros, at Bourges. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 1620. 
MY VERY DEAR SlSTER, 

I understand perfectly, and have never 
doubted but that your intention was upright. Don t 
be afraid to tell me what you think it your duty to 
mention, but, my love, do not worry yourself about 
such things, if they are not manifest faults. Leave 
them to the coadjutrix, who ought to do her duty 
in all humility and cordiality. Tell her from me 
that I will do all she asks me, but I cannot write 
to her this time. For God s sake observe the rules 
punctually, and have all of you but one heart and 
one soul, and so will your love be perfect in Our 
Lord. Give my affectionate love to my poor fat 
Sister M. M., and dear little M. Louise; both are in 
my heart. I wish all happiness to the two deaj 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 93 

daughters Marie-Francoise and Anne-Marie; I pray 
God to give them and all of you the virtue of holy 
obedience, the mother of all virtues. 

Be sure to tell the dear professed that they have a 
bigger share of my heart than they dream of. But 

as to the reception to the habit of Sister this 

child has not the conditions marked, why then have 
they given her their votes ? They do not set 
sufficient value on fidelity to the Rule. Votes should 
never be given in the hope of amendment, you should 
see the improvement first before giving the habit, 
and the same with regard to Sister C. M. : she should 
not make her profession at the end of the year. 
Why ! in truth she has only really conducted herself 
as a novice for six months, so she ought, I consider, 
to be kept back, and this will prove her perseverance 
and bring home to her that she does not deserve to 
be professed, and that with humility and submission, 
such matters should be left in the hands of the 
Superior, and the Sisters. By this prolongation of 
her trial, her virtue and her dispositions will be 
tested. 

May God in His goodness give you all His spirit, 
and the grace to weigh well all our Rules, so that 
they may be observed and followed even to the most 
insignificant point, for in this our happiness consists. 

Adieu to you, my dear Sister, and to all our dear 
professed. Let us love God and accomplish His 
will, I beseech you, my dearly loved daughter. 



94 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

XLIII. 

To Madame du Tertre. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

PARIS, 

ii August, 1620. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

Having a little free time I make use of it to 
beg of you in the name of God to accept the judge 
ment of the Bishop of Geneva, to whom you have 
referred this affair, and who considers that what was 
so deliberately settled on the house of Nevers should 
remain with that house. You, my dearest daughter, 
ought to be indifferent about such matters so long 
as we give you all you desire. Why should you 
trouble as to what use we make of your gift since 
quite sufficient is provided for your maintenance ? 
If you keep to your holy desire of living amongst us 
and giving yourself entirely to God you must, if you 
please, trust his Lordship and show that you are 
satisfied with his decision. As for us, we desire 
neither law-suit nor contention, and a hundred times 
would we prefer to return all you have given us 
rather than retain it with the least accompanying 
unpleasantness : for we value peace with holy poverty 
incomparably more than all the goods this world 
can give us. 

The Bishop of Geneva will not disclaim what I now 
say to you. I am a little surprised that, since his 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 95 

letters have arrived, we have received no news except 
that much pressure is being brought to bear on our 
Sisters of Nevers to induce them to return the money 
they have received. It is their Bishop tells me this. 
You understand, my very dear daughter, that if you 
desire to persevere, as I believe you do, you must 
please, now that you are acquainted with the views 
of his Lordship of Geneva, cease to discuss this 
matter. 

Our poor Sisters of both houses are sorely afflicted 
at having to give ear to a style of conversation with 
which they are unacquainted peace is more to 
them than such things. Let them have it, then, I 

pray you. 

Believe me, 

Always yours, etc. 

XLIV. 

To M. de Palierne, Treasurer of France at 
Moulins. 

Vive >J< Jsus ! 

PARIS, 
SlR, August 15, 1620. 

Your regard for the Bishop of Geneva and 
for our little Institute, together with the prudence 
with which you have always guided our Convent of 
Moulins, gives me hope that you will find a means 
of adjusting the opposing claims of the Bishop of 
Nevers and Madame du Tertre. The pregnant 



g6 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

arguments you put forward bear, I acknowledge, 
great weight, but so do those of his Lordship of 
Nevers. I see much to consider on both sides. Yet 
I tell you frankly, and it seems to me that I am not 
unreasonable in my opinion, that, in consideration 
of Madame du Tertre s resolve to live with us, what 
she has so freely given ought to be left with the house 
of Nevers: otherwise she would have to make a 
virtue of necessity, and this we should be sorry to 
oblige her to do. But I am chiefly influenced by the 
fact that the authorities of Nevers only gave permis 
sion for the establishment of the Convent because 
Madame du Tertre accompanied her petition by a 
promise of ten thousand crowns, which promise was 
followed by the actual purchase in her name of a 
property, and the payment of a third of the founda 
tion money; and on the strength of this the Sisters 
were received. Possession was afterwards taken of 
the house. The Sisters were installed by the Bishop, 
enclosure established, and the Blessed Sacrament 
reserved. Since that day the Divine Office* has been 
continuously recited. Thus, the foundation is, as you 
see, completely established. How, then, can Madame 
du Tertre, having undertaken the financial establish 
ment of this house, now draw back without upsetting 
the whole affair ? For as his Lordship of Nevers has 
upon two occasions plainly told me, the spiritual 
foundation cannot exist without the temporal. 
* The Little Office of Our Lady. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 97 

Do you not see, Sir, that to do what this young 
lady wishes would mean ruining one of our houses 
to ensure abundance to the other house. 

My very dear brother, may I, Sir, so call you ? 
When writing to you, I have often thought of doing 
so because of my sisterly confidence in, and affection 
for you, and because of the obligations under which 
you have placed me. This I say simply and frankly, 
though perhaps somewhat unconventionally. Allow 
me Sir, my very dear brother, to tell you that the 
property is not ours to divide. As Madame du 
Tertre no longer wishes to adhere to her first resolve, 
she may be at liberty to take back what she has 
given, but I do not know what justice would have 
to say on this point. Still, putting justice aside, 
the Bishop of Geneva would surely not approve of 
our retaining one teston* that was not freely given. 
Oh ! of that there is no doubt. But as she has 
entered amongst us, and as our house of Moulins is 
satisfied with the twenty thousand francs she 
brings, acknowledging that this sum is quite suffici 
ent to provide the young lady with all she requires, 
and as the affair concerns our own houses, is it not 
better to follow the advice of his Lordship of Geneva 
and share the ten thousand crowns between the two 
houses ? or at least leave ten thousand francs to 
Nevers, so that that house may not be ruined. It 
was upon the assurance of this from our Moulins 
* An old French coin. 

7 



SELECTED LETTERS OF 



sisters that those of Nevers decided to go to that 
town. Before God, how can we possibly put into 
the power of the Bishop of Nevers such a favourable 
pretext for sending the sisters away ? Oh ! can you 
not see, my very dear brother, how shameful it 
would be, and how prejudicial to the service of God ? 
Although the houses are ours, and we have the 
principal interest in them, the agreement has been 
more to the advantage of this dear young lady than 
to us. For with her twenty thousand francs she 
possesses at Moulins all the privileges she could hope 
for were it fifty thousand, and besides, when there is 
just reason, in virtue of her title of benefactress, 
she is free to pass on to Nevers and there enjoy the 
same rights as are conferred on her at Moulins. This, 
in my opinion, is a very just arrangement and I most 
humbly beg of you to induce her to accept it. Use 
your influence with her, I beseech of you, for the 
honour and glory of God and of His Blessed Mother, 
and also for the love you bear our little Institute. 
Madame du Tertre desired to know the wishes of the 
Bishop of Geneva, and he has acceded to her request. 
Let her then accommodate herself to his views and 
live in peace. I appeal to you in the name of God, 
for I see no other way of settling this affair, and I 
own candidly that I can obtain nothing more from 
his Lordship of Nevers, who holds out for the full 
sum and writes about it in a very matter-of-fact way. 
I answer as God directs me, resolved through His 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 99 

grace to place all in His hands and to remain in 
peace and submission to whatever divine Providence 
ordains. 

I beg of our Sisters of Moulins to do whatever 
justice demands. Oh ! what a shame it would be to 
see our houses sueing one another ! A thousand 
times rather would I prefer to see them overwhelmed 
with reproaches and poverty than that this should 
ever happen. If, dearest brother, after all these 
humble petitions and arguments, Madame du Tertre 
and our Sisters of Moulins wish to act against those 
of Nevers she must do as she pleases; but we shall 
neither blame them nor defend ourselves, for to do 
so would not be the will of God, and under these 
circumstances I am persuaded it would be better 
for one or other entirely to surrender its claim. 
Such, too, is the opinion of his Lordship of Geneva. 

Oblige me by telling our Sister, the Superior of 
Moulins, that I have already written to her, as by 
accident she may not have yet received my letter. 
This, that I now write to you, will also serve for good 
Madame du Tertre, it being all I am able for, as I 
have a slight indisposition which is becoming 
habitual with me. I have no other wish than that 
she should be treated sweetly and cordially with all 
affection as she certainly merits. But, I assure you, 
Nevers was entirely her own free choice: I have 
ample evidence of this in her letters. God only 
knows all that has passed on this subject. Our 



ioo SELECTED LETTERS OF 

poor Sister Superior may have appeared somewhat 
inflexible and shown how much she felt this rupture. 
But, dearest brother, in consideration for her posi 
tion we must throw over this fault of weakness or 
surprise, the mantle of holy charity, that mantle 
which bears with all, excuses all, and hides all the 
defects of her children. These last lines are in 
confidence for your own ear only, your goodness and 
piety encouraging me to confide in you. I beseech 
of you in conclusion to use all the influence at your 
command in favour of peace and charity. Believe 
me, I am truly indifferent to everything except the 
glory of God. 

I remain, Sir, very dear brother, with much 
affection, 

Your humble and obliged 

Sister and servant in Our Lord. 



XLV. 

To St. Francis de Sales. 

Vive >fc Jesus ! 

PARIS, 
August, 1621. 

Pray much, my incomparable Father, for the 
Archbishop of Bourges,* and ask our Sisters to pray 

* The Archbishop of Bourges, being one of those who 
discovered the ambitious conspiracy hatched by Conde, 
Governor of Berry, for which he was arrested in Sep 
tember, 1616, became, upon that Prince s release several 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 101 

for him. What is this storm after all in comparison 
with the sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion ? 
I beseech His divine Majesty, to which I have con 
secrated myself, to let my brother s part in this 
affair serve entirely for His glory, and I doubt not 
but that it will be so. The doctor was thunder 
struck when they told him that Mgr. of Bourges had 
been removed and M. N. given the Archbishopric. 
He speaks of nothing but the universal affection of 
the people of Bourges for our good Archbishop, who 
feels this blow though he has taken it in his usual 
good-natured way. You who know him can under 
stand how detrimental the change will be to the 
poor and to the religious Houses, to both of whom 
he has been such a benefactor. Our Sisters will not 
be the least sufferers, for he loved them much and 
was extremely good to them. A word from you 
would be an immense consolation to him. 

May the sweet Jesus fill your heart with His most 
pure love, and may we eternally repose in Him. 
Amen. 



years later, the object of his special vengeance. He 
obliged Mgr. Fremyot to resign his Archiepiscopal See, 
assigning him in compensation the abbeys of Ferridres, and 
Breteuil, and also the priory of Nogent-le-Rotrou. 



102 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



XLVI. 

To Madame de la Flecker e. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

PARIS, 1621. 

Madame, I pray that God may always be your 
strength, your love, and your hope, for in my little 
ness I have an incomparable affection for you. Eh ! 
but your letters, dear, best of sisters, console me, 
and yet I truly feel with you who bear the burden 
of sharp and hidden sorrows. But after all, how 
happy we should be to suffer such things with only 
the eye of God to look upon them. Truly our crosses 
ought greatly to raise our courage, seeing that by 
them we attain to a union all secret with our sweet. 
Master, the greatness of whose sufferings nor men 
nor angels can ever conceive. Take comfort in this 
thought when pain is at its height. Still, you ought 
not to conceal your pain from our Blessed Father 
(but I think you do not). 

We can, it seems to me, so name him, as there is a 
worthy ecclesiastic here who calls him the true 
Father. I am sure, dearest sister, that each day he 
strives after a higher perfection. Happy they who 
have the example of his rare virtues before them, 
but far happier they who imitate them ! God grant 
us the grace to be of this number, and may my 
weakness not hold me back. I shall be satisfied if 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE OHANTAL 103 

I follow him a hundred steps behind. I am very 
glad that your sister has the comfort of staying with 
you and that your son is good. May God give him 
the grace to persevere, and may he root all vanity 
out of your daughter s heart. Mine is very extrava 
gant. It is well that she has found such a good and 
prudent husband. When I see her I do my best to 
make her sensible and to show her her mistake. I 
recommend her to your prayers. My son is also 
most extravagant, but otherwise he is brave, love- 
able, and esteemed at court, where the King has 
given him a very honourable past for one so young. 
But all this is vanity. I value more your remem 
brance of him before God than all these dignities. 
He is always here, I mean with the court, or in his 
garrison. I trust to the prayers of our Blessed 
Father to save these children s souls, and that is all 
I care about. 
Adieu, dearest Sister. 



XLVII. 

To the Countess de Toulonjon, 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 1621. 
MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

The dress I am sending you is really quite 
perfect and is the most beautiful that can be pro 
cured. If your brother were very rich it would be 



104 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

a pleasure to him to pay the bill for you, but as it is 
he begs of you to be satisfied with his good- will, for 
he has not wherewith to pay it. Be content with 
this dress, for it is handsome and quite sufficiently 
stylish, and because you so long for it I want to 
satisfy you. M. de Toulon j on writes that you have 
not a single gown except the one you are wearing. 
I cannot understand this, as during the last seventeen 
months you have had four silk dresses and the 
brocade costume about which you told me. What 
then am I to think, I pray you, dear Francoise ? 
Oh ! God bless you, my daughter; do be content and 
let it be seen that you are the child of parents who 
were altogether reasonable, peaceful, and constant 
in their perfect affection, and this it is that I desire 
for you. 

I write in haste. A thousand salutations to all 
your dear relatives. Do not expect your brother: 
he cannot go to you, and I do not wish him to. You 
have my nephew. Courage, my child, be not a silly, 
frivolous girl, troubling over trifles, and letting them 
take up your thoughts. Urge M. de Toulonjon to 
send me the money for the dress. The amount of 
the bill is, I understand, 500 livres, and I have not 
got the money to pay it, so let me have it by the 
first opportunity, as I do not wish to remain in debt 
here. 

God bless you, dearest Fran9on. I am in a great 
hurry. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 105 



XLVIII. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior 
at Montferrand. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

DIJON, 

May, 1622. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Your letter of the lyth of March is the only 
one I have received; the others will no doubt come 
to hand later, God willing. You must not put off 
your departure beyond the date you mention. I do 
wish you were here, for it certainly does delay me 
not to have you. Your presence here is needed, 
and as the affairs of dear Mme. de Dalet are hopeless 
you had better come away as soon as ever you can. 
The house of Montferrand ought to finance your 
journey from the place whence you came to them, 
and the house of Lyons should do likewise ; but your 
coming here is hardly more than your going to 
Nessy.* I shall write to the Lyons Sisters in 
reference to this. 

We are, thank God, poor here, yet, God be praised, 
nothing is wanting to us. A widow of good family, 
discreet and genial, wants to live with us as a 
benefactress. She proposes giving her furniture and 
2,000 crowns, besides defraying all her own expenses. 

We have received two good children, and find no 
* A popular name for Annecy. 



lo6 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

lack of aspirants for our life, but the important 
thing is to be careful in our choice. In my opinion 
you will be pleased with those you will find here. 
Yesterday we went with Mgr. de Langres* to look 
for a house. It is not easy to find a suitable one, 
but Our Lord will help us. We are advised to 
bide our time and to put up with the house that 
adjoins this, which is sufficiently commodious for a 
beginning. Moreover, to the money the good lady 
(the benefactress) intends giving us she will add 
sufficient to enable us to be housed here. Then 
upon our leaving this house, which will be at the 
end of three or four years, if not sooner, she will give 
us the 2,000 crowns. Everybody agrees in thinking 
this a most advantageous offer. The worst of it is 
that the garden is very small: the courts are quite 
suitable. Dijon is very much shut in, and it is 
difficult to find a house to rent that will accom 
modate us. That in which we now are is small 
and has no garden or courtyard except one 
hardly bigger than a table. Even as I write it 
makes me laugh to think of it ; and I must tell you 
besides that if we want to get a little fresh air we 
have to climb on the roof. Nevertheless, we are, 
thank God, as merry and as contented as we can be. 
Be on your guard, my great daughter,^ against that 

* Monseigneur Sebastian Zamet, Bishop of Langres, in 
which diocese Dijon was situated. 

t A title given to Mother Favre by St. Francis. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 107 

dislike which you have of coming here. Overcome 
it, I beg of you, for everybody who knows that you 
are coming is delighted at the idea, and as for me, 
I simply cannot tell you how I am looking forward 
to it. Oh ! what a joy to see you once more for a 
little while. It will do me a world of good. Who 
are those timorous people who say that they must 
not use terms of affection to me ? I don t agree 
with them at all, neither should you. Our hearts 
could not stand that. 

The Archbishop of Lyons is in trouble as to who 
will take you back. They have made a great fuss 

about Sister . If our Cadette is removed I am 

afraid that house will fail. She has never been 
elected: see to this if you can at your deposition, 
and don t stop longer than just to arrange about it. 
Let me have news of you again before you start. 
What will Mme. de Chazeron s plan come to ? I 
most affectionately salute your successor. It has 
always been a source of regret to me that I have not 
seen your community: none the less do I love it, 
and I send my warm greetings to it and to all its 
good friends. 

With all my heart, your affectionate, 

P.S. Ask the Sisters, I beseech you, to pray hard 
and continually for my poor son till he is won back 
to Our Lord. 



io8 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



XLIX. 

To M. de Neucheze. 

Vive tfa Jesus ! 

DIJON, 

June 8, 1622. 

So engrossing is Paris, my dear nephew, that if I 
do not refresh your memory about your old aunt she 
runs the chance of your forgetting all about her. 
Yet for all that I do not think you would forget me. 
I have received too many proofs of your good nature 
for that. But, tell me, what are you doing in that 
great Paris amidst so many honours and such 
worldly luxuries ? Oh ! I beseech of you, dear child, 
guard yourself vigilantly on every side, lest an undue 
affection for these things take hold of you. My 
God ! how I hate them all. And am I not right, 
dearest nephew, since they leave no time for reflec 
tion, and no desire for eternal goods ? All is 
sacrificed to perishable enjoyments. For the love of 
God beware of them. I would have you protect 
your dear soul with a very watchful care, so that 
however abundantly you possess temporal things 
they may never take possession of you. Rise 
quickly and holily above them all. This advice 
goes to you direct from my heart, and as coming 
thence I know you will receive it. Now and always 
I am most affectionately desirous of obtaining for 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 109 

you through the divine Goodness an abundance of 
blessings, all that it is in my power to procure, that 
you may enjoy God s grace in this life and in the 
next His glory. These, dearest nephew, are the 
wishes of her who remains always, 

Your very humble aunt and servant. 

P.S. Allow me very affectionately to salute good 
M. Robert Dapantor* and all your household. 
Dear Sister Parisej took the habit on St. Claud s 
Day. Mgr. de Langres gave it to her and performed 
the whole ceremony. She sends you affectionate 
messages, as does likewise the deceased^ Mother of 
Bourges and all that little family of nine daughters, 
[f they dared they would all beg of you respect 
fully to salute on their part his Grace the 
Archbishop. 

* Former tutor of the young Baron de Chantal. 

f Sister Marie Claire Parise was the foundress of the 
Visitation Monastery at Dijon a humble and fervent soul. 
While still a secular she asked God never to permit her to 
be without suffering of some kind for His love. He heard 
her prayer, and her life was a continual interior martyrdom, 
nevertheless joy and tranquility of soul never abandoned 
her. Having with the utmost solicitude and care established 
the monastery of Dijon, she was sent to Beaune, on its 
foundation in 1632, and there died in the odour of 
sanctity. 

J A nickname given by the Saint to Sister Anne Marie 
Rosset when she was deposed from the Superiorship of 
Bourges. 



no SELECTED LETTERS OF 

L. 

To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of 
the First Monastery of Paris. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

DIJON, 
$oth June, 1622. 

I cannot but believe, my dearest daughter, that 
there is more artifice than martyrdom about our 
N., and I assure you I find it very difficult to think 
otherwise. If she were reproved, or passed over, 
I expect it would cure her. There will be nothing 
but trouble if God does not put His hand to the 
work. May His divine Goodness apply the remedy. 
I enclose her letter, and my reply. What a strange 
thing is this spirit of the world ! You must remain 
patient and firm under its hard criticism. As 
you will see by my answers all your letters have 
reached me. 

It certainly is a rare thing, my child, in a large 
community not to find someone who is a trial, but 
that so many are good is a great subject of consola 
tion. For the love of God, I pray you don t imagine 
that it is through your fault that others do not 
advance. That is not so, thank God. They will be 
very happy, my dearest daughter, if they follow 
your advice, and do as you do. In a word I am of 
opinion that in this (the support of feeble souls) 
consists in great part the cross of poor Superiors. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL III 

The strength of mind God gives you to reprimand 
will be of great service to them. Persevere in 
allowing nothing contrary to perfection. For zeal 
combined with gentleness is of great force in anima 
ting hearts, and the like of us women need to be 
perpetually egged on and kept up to the mark. 

I feel I must just simply tell you the truth. All 
you say about yourself gives me great cause to praise 
God. It is all excellent. Go always, as you now 
do, to God alone. I had much consolation in reading 
your letter and above all in seeing what courage 
God has given you. Verily, my dear Sister, he who 
loves not, he who trusts not, he who rests not wholly 
in the arms of divine Providence must be hard as 
flint and altogether insensible. In these arms, then, 
at His mercy, let us dwell so that He may do as He 
pleases with us. 

I cannot tell you how grateful I feel to God for 
the graces that I see and know you to have received, 
and it seems to me that for this I am under a great 
obligation of gratitude to Him. 

Instruct, and speak continually to your daughters 
of the sweet, sure, abundant mercy of God towards, 
those souls who hand themselves over to Him,, 
trusting Him out and out. I am very glad about 
little de B. I think she will be a good child if she can 
bear mortification, but the gentleness which is 
practised with us will make it easy for her. Good 
bye, my dearest daughter; I am truly overwhelmed 



H2 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

here with visits and writing. I salute all my friends 
and above all our poor Sisters of Villeneuve. 

Show these letters to the Rev. Father. It only 
needs a little time to get the postulant away. We 
must do this, and say nothing, except that as the 
Chapter has not received her she cannot be kept, 
and we must bear the consequences patiently. God 
will direct all and you will draw profit from it. The 
good Father who brings you these letters is a great 
friend of our Institute, and we are under many 
obligations to him. 

LI. 

To Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre, Superior at 
Dijon. 

Vive >%4 Jesus ! 

LYONS, 

8th December, 1622. 
MY OWN DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Here we are returned from our dear little 
Montferrand where I certainly found excellent souls, 
full of desire to advance in the perfect observance. 
The poor Superior* was almost broken by the dread 
of her charge; this she told me you already knew 
from herself; I have left her greatly encouraged. 
She truly gives me pleasure, for her judgement is 
good, her aspirations are good, and she possesses an 
exceedingly good appearance and manner (several 
* Mother Marie Jacqueline Compain. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 113 

illegible lines). My daughter, perform the Office, 
I beg of you, as it is marked. These fancies pass. 
His Lordship wishes us to keep up a tone not too 
high, but moderate, and to sing clearly, distinctly, 
and evenly : as for other faults I do not know of any, 
unless some defect in pronunciation. I very much 
desire that we should observe the same manner of 
singing the Office in all the houses; changes I find 
slip in. But for the future his Lordship will mark 
how it is to be carried out, and then we have only to 
keep to what is settled. At St. Etienne they drag 
shockingly. By the way there is an excellent 
Superior there who carries out her charge with great 
discretion.* You know how exact she is, she fits 
into her office admirably. I tell her that she is in 
her element. Certainly all goes well in that house, 
and I am delighted with it. ... Monseigneur is 
here, | and we see a little of him. He does not wish 

* The foundation of St. Etienne had but just been made, 
and Mother Fran9oise Jeronyme de Vilette named Superior. 

f " On December 8th, 1622, while King Louis XIII. was 
making his state entry into Lyons amidst a great display of 
pomp on the part of the two courts of France and Savoy, 
St. Francis de Sales, wishing, like a true father, to enjoy the 
society of his daughters, sent off all his retinue to see the 
fete and came by himself to the Convent parlour. There 
in the course of conversation with us he drew a contrast 
between the feast which the Church that day celebrated, 
and the political feast the town was keeping in honour of 
the King s entry. 

" Our worthy Mother de Chantal, who was present, was 
overjoyed to meet again the father of her soul, but this 

8 



ii4 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

us to leave yet; this I think is out of consideration 
for the Archbishop of Bourges. Sister Marie de 
Valence is also here. She is undoubtedly a most 
humble and simple soul, without any constrained or 
peculiar ways, and her little daughter is the same. 

I pray you, my child, manage if you can to get the 
letters from Madame de Puy-d Orbe; I wish you 
could help her, for she greatly needs it. 

His Lordship wants us seriously to contemplate 
a means of keeping the houses united. He intends 
to consult the great Jesuit Fathers about it, and he 



meeting was not to give her the consolation for which she 
had hoped. The town was crowded with persons of 
distinction, all of whom flocked to the Visitation, there to 
meet the Sun of Prelates, as they called St. Francis de 
Sales. One day the Archbishop of Bourges and his nephew, 
the Abbe de Neuchdze, the devout Sister Marie de Valence, 
and Pere Cotton, S. J., all met in our parlour, so that it was 
said our house was the meeting-place of all the holiest 
people, and had become, so to say, a court of Heaven, 
while the court of the Royal Princess was being held in the 
town. 

" Upon a certain day St. Francis, having some hours free, 
came to the parlour to confer with the Venerable Foundress ; 
but much as she wished to speak to him of her interior 
state, he would not permit her to do so, deferring all that 
until their return to Annecy, desiring her to visit the 
Monasteries of Valence, Grenoble, and Belley before return 
ing to Savoy. St. Jane Frances at once set out, never 
dreaming that she had seen her blessed Father for the last 
time on earth." (Taken from the " History of the Founda 
tion of Lyons.") St. Francis died on the 28th of that same 

onth. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 115 

wishes us always to have recourse to them, for he 
says no one comes up to them. I am very glad the 
Father Rector likes you so much ; he has always done 
so. Salute him very affectionately for me, also the 
good Father Gentil, I have the highest respect for 
them both. But above all do I honour with a 
singular reverence and affection Mgr. de Langres. 
Assure him of it, my child. When he goes to 
Dijon and when I know he is there I shall write 
to him. 

M. Gariot is here: he will worry you with his 
suggestions, but it is not necessary, I think, to do 
all he wants, at least I don t : above all in the parlour, 
where I cut him short ; nevertheless, my Love, have 
his affairs recommended to Councillor Berbisey. 
This is urgent, for he wishes to start. My good 
cousin, I must tell you, is in admiration of you 
(three lines illegible). He has a good heart; be 
quite open with him, and with the good Sister de 
Vigney, who is also very fond of you, as indeed are 
all the others. 

Adieu, my child, my truly amiable and dearest 
daughter. God be blessed Our Lady s Day have 
prayers said for our affairs. Salute on my behalf 
all our relatives, our friends, and whoever else you 
wish. 



n6 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



LII. 

To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of 
the First Monastery of Paris. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1623. 
MY VERY DEAR SlSTER, 

It is indeed true that the privation of the 
presence of my beloved Father is the greatest sorrow 
I could have: for it was my priceless privilege and 
my sole joy in this life. But since it has pleased God 
to deprive me of it I acquiesce in His good pleasure 
with all my heart, consoling myself in that I can now 
say with truth: " He is my supreme and only conso 
lation." Alas ! my -dearest Sister, ought not this to 
be enough and even all-satisfying ? Truly that heart 
is too avaricious for which God is not enough : and 
miserable is the heart which is satisfied with any 
thing less than God. I owe it to you, and it is my 
wish to tell both you and Sister Helene-Angelique 
(L huillier), since by the goodness of God you are so 
perfectly united, that this most holy soul, who in 
life gave us so many perfumes of virtue, gives us 
still the manifestation of them.* The greater part 

* We read in the history of the foundation of Annecy: 
" As soon as the blessed body (of St. Francis de Sales) had 
been carried into the first Monastery, celestial perfumes 
were perceived throughout the entire house, on account of 
which our worthy Mother forbade the Sacristan, who alone 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 117 

of the sisters here perceived numberless times and 
in divers places odours so sweet and extraordinary 
that we can but think it is our Blessed Father who 
visits us and makes us understand by these celestial 
perfumes that he is praying for us. How this 
penetrates me, dearest Sister ! On Sunday I was 
quite overcome, for three distinct times I was 
conscious of them. 

It would take too long to tell you how God is 
manifesting His most humble Servant. In a word 
there is much for which to thank and glorify Him. 
Do so then, my daughter, whom my soul loves, and 
let your gratitude be shown by faithful observance 
to all we have learnt. Oh ! what honour and 
happiness is comparable to that of serving in humble 
and absolute submission the holy will of our good 
God ! Let us only think of, only seek this glorious 
eternity, for there is our Sovereign Good, with whom 
we shall eternally rejoice. May He be blessed ! 

Yours, etc. 



had in her keeping pastilles and perfumes, to use any of 
them, and a like obedience she gave to all the Sisters, 
forbidding them to handle or put any scented thing any 
where in the house. But all these precautions only served 
the better to make known the favour Our Lord had granted, 
for the cloisters, corridors, choir, oratories, and other places 
of the Monastery were perfumed with a most fragrant 
odour, which, like a heavenly unction, spread many interior 
graces upon the Community." 



n8 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



LIII. 

To Mother Marie Helene de Chastellux, Superior at 
Moulins. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1623. 

Glory be to God, dearest Daughter, that this 
disagreement between you and our Sisters of Nevers 
has come to an end. I have known of it for a long 
time. Henceforth, I conjure you, live together in 
perfect and sweet union, for such was the desire of 
our Blessed Father. 

I shall write to our Sister the Superior of Paris, 
and if she can leave you the dowry of Sister M. 
Marguerite I am sure she will do so, for she is no 
lover of money, but justice must be maintained. 

For God s sake keep far from you all desire of 
being well off. Love poverty and God will make 
you abound in true riches: this is the spirit of our 
Blessed Father. He could not tolerate any eager 
ness in us for temporal goods, or that we should be 
solicitous at all about them. It consoled him to see 
souls love and esteem poverty. Surely it is but 
reasonable that we who are vowed to it should no 
longer hold dear the riches we have renounced. 
And it is with the great Master that this contract 
has been made. Oh ! my daughter, be not angry 
with me for speaking thus. I do not accuse you 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 119 



of this evil, but I speak because I have an extreme 
desire to see holy poverty honoured and cherished 
amongst us, and my heart s wish is that every soul 
in the Institute should love it. 

Jesu ! never burden yourself, daughter dearest, 
with girls who have no religious vocation, nor fitting 
dispositions for our manner of life. After having 
exercised charity for some months towards this girl, 
if God does not truly touch her heart and if she does 
not genuinely desire to be a Religious, you ought in 
all humility to ask these gentlemen, her relations, 
to take her away : for how does it look, I pray you, 
to keep girls in the convent who are simply boarders 
and must have their meals apart ? Certainly, 
daughter, this must not be done, and I feel confident 
that Sister Marie Aimee (de Morville) is too good- 
hearted not to help this girl to overcome herself, 
and send her to eat with the community while she is 
with you. My God, how we must guard ourselves 
against this miserable world, and take every pre 
caution, lest its spirit enter into our monasteries. 
May God in His mercy preserve us from it ! 

1 have the greatest aversion to this title Mere 
ancienne, because it is against the Rule and there 
fore against the spirit of our Blessed Father. You 
will see a little reference to it in the last conference 
he gave at Lyons. I should like to see our Sisters 
hold in such reverence his memory, and the Rule, 
that in comparison to them they could give no 



120 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



thought at all to their own silly fancies and inclina 
tions, and I am sure Sister Jeanne Charlotte (de 
Brechard) would agree with me, as she ought to in 
this. Alack ! what honour is there in such things ? 
Rather is honour to be found in perfect observance. 
I am very sorry for poor Sister M. Catherine (Chariel), 
but she ought to be faithful to the exercises, in as 
much, at least, as depends on herself, by the exterior 
observance of them, and she should refuse to consent 
to those evil reflections, resisting them with the 
sword of the spirit. This much God has put in our 
power, and never can we fall except by our own 
will. If she is faithful to this, God will be satisfied, 
but she must submit herself absolutely. I will 
write to her. 

Be most careful to let no coolness exist between 
you and the Jesuit Fathers, and give them no excuse 
for keeping away from you. Our Blessed Father 
would not have approved of it. Soon, please God, 
you will see in the Directory what he said to me at 
Lyons on this point. Recall them gently, daughter, 
and give them your former confidence. Although 
the good Father you mention did not take the 
matter rightly the Jesuits are too wise and too good 
to keep up a grudge against us. 

I think I know Pere de Geney, if it is the same; he 
is a very good Religious in whom you can confide. 
Converse in a trustful spirit with them all, but above 
all with the Jesuits and their Rector. He spoke the 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 121 

truth to you in saying that the Sisters are satisfied 
and feel the improvement. Keep your courage ever 
higher, my most dear daughter, and always, I 
beseech you, govern in a spirit of extreme gentleness. 
Look sometimes at the advice I give to Superiors, 
and although I am worthless Our Lord has allowed 
Himself to speak through me in this. May He be 
blessed for ever ! 

If Sister M. Charlotte (de Feu) is eighteen or 
twenty let her in the name of God follow the com 
munity, and if on that account she suffers somewhat 
she will be very happy. At least do not let her be 
the judge of her own needs, and she should submit 
herself to you. Give her plenty to do, and then be 
at her side to help her. You ought not to have sent 
out that letter that you did not understand, though 
it is true when written to one of ourselves there is 
less danger. 

Bear with the old woman, I beg of you, and you 
will gain her to God. I rather prefer your writing 
during recreation than in the evening. I do this, 
and in the midst of our Sisters. Get Sister Jeanne 
Charlotte or someone else to help you in this, and 
write little except to our monasteries; but you 
should read a good quarter of an hour every evening 
after Matins, for this will be useful to you. We 
should wear ourselves out in the service of our 
neighbour, and doing so we shall be happy. 

Certainly, daughter, the dormitory ought not to be 



122 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

made into an infirmary: if doing otherwise gives a 
little more trouble to the sisters they will have all 
the more merit. Alas ! my God, the poor have far 
more than this to put up with. Our Blessed Father s 
maxim was to refuse no inconvenience, and to ask 
for no relief, yet if relief was given him he accepted 
it. Oh, daughter, great courage is needed to seek 
God alone, bearing all for love of Him. 

I am a little surprised to have no news of Sister 
Jeanne Charlotte, and Sister Marie Aim6e. Had I 
time I would send them a note to waken them up, 
and assure them that I belong to them, but for this 
time give them my message and tell them that I 
wrote to them when I was at Moulins the last time, 
at least to the elder sister. May God in His goodness 
hold you in His holy hand. I am devoted to you 
more than I could ever put into words. God be 
Blessed ! 

I salute all our sisters, especially Sister Assistant, 
for whom I have a great affection, but I wish she 
would write to me once more, then I would answer 
her fully. It is because I have not had time that I 
have not done so. God be Blessed ! 

P.S. It has occurred to me that I ought to send 
you the first sheet of the Directory all that is yet 
out in which is set down how the Office ought to 
performed on the great feasts of our Lord. His 
Lordship will be satisfied at its being performed in 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 123 

this manner. The change must be effected quietly 
and imperceptibly. Our Sisters are very much 
pleased with it. 



LIV. 

To Sister Marie Marguerite Milletot at Dijon. 

Vive >J Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1623. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

Do not be astonished at seeing yourself 
surrounded by spiritual enemies; only guard your 
heart so that they may not enter. But I know you 
would die a thousand times over rather than let 
them do so. Remain then in peace and patience, 
awaiting your deliverance by our good Saviour, and 
He will free you sooner than you think. This trial 
is, dearest daughter, hard to bear, but believe me if 
you had any other you would find it equally so. 
This life is only given us to combat. Every one has 
his own cross. Oh God ! how heavy is the burden 
to me of my own extreme misery and of my own 
infidelities ! May the good God deliver me from 
myself ! Be brave, daughter dearest, he who does 
not conquer shall never be crowned. I beseech the 
divine Goodness to strengthen you in this combat. 
Pray to the good God for 

Your humble and unworthy Mother. 



124 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



LV. 

To Sister Fran^oise Caspar de de la Grave* Assistant 
to the Superior at Belley. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1623. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Do you know that these fears and self-tortur- 
ings about your past confessions are pure tempta 
tions of the devil ? Make a firm stand and take no 
heed of them, dear daughter, for the devil is only 
trying in his malice to deceive you. Bear with his 
attacks and the suffering that comes of them gently 
and humbly, submitting to the good pleasure of God, 
who permits them to test your fidelity and confi- 

* Sister Franoise-Gasparde de la Grave, professed of the 
first Monastery of Annecy in 1617, was specially loved and 
trained by St. Francis de Sales, and always showed herself 
worthy of her great master. She was chiefly remarkable 
for her calm and unalterable sweetness in the midst of the 
contradictions of all kinds with which she was surrounded. 
" My Blessed Father has taught me," she would say on 
such occasions, " that the love of one s own abjection ought 
never to be one step distant from our hearts." She was 
successively Superior at Belley, Bourges, and Perigueux, 
from which last house she contributed to the foundation at 
Tulle. Having governed the Monastery of Seyssel for three 
years, she returned to the house of her profession, where 
she died in 1638. After her decease they found she had 
carefully written down all the humiliating things that had 
ever been said to her. On the corner of this packet was 
written: " The enclosed are to perfume my heart with the 
precious odour of humiliation," 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 125 

dence. Pay no regard to anything the tempter 
suggests. Never let your mind argue about it; but 
suffer it without yielding consent. Throw yourself 
upon the mercy of the divine Mercy. Leave to it 
the care of your salvation and of everything regard 
ing you. Tell God that you have entire trust in His 
goodness, and although it may seem to you that you 
have not any, never cease to assure Him that you 
have, and always will have with the assistance of 
His grace. This I command you to do. And bear 
patiently the burden without desiring to be delivered 
from it; for that would be a brave sort of virtue 
which never wished to be attacked, and a grand 
fidelity that which would surrender at the first 
approach of the enemy ! Remain firm without 
wishing ever to confess past sins a second time, or 
ever swerving from your duty of patience and con 
fidence in God : and you will see how God draws His 
glory and your good out of this temptation, for 
which may He in His infinite goodness be blessed. 

LVI. 

To Mgr. the Bishop of Autun. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 
MY LORD, ANNECY, 1623. 

I have heard of your kindness to our poor 
Sisters of Moulins in regard to the difficulties they 
have had with their Foundress, and that by the 
grace of God you and your Council, recognizing the 



126 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

true virtue and uprightness of the Superior and of 
her Religious, gave them protection and comfort in 
their extreme affliction. But, my Lord, from what 
I learn, they at the present moment need more than 
ever your paternal assistance, and I humbly beg 
your Lordship in the name of our good God to help 
them. If, in order to restore tranquility in their 
monastery, it is only necessary to return the money 
to our good Sister Foundress, so that she may live 
elsewhere, certainly we shall be content to do so, 
for we love better to live poorly and keep our 
observance than to abound in riches and be thwarted 
in it. The Providence of God will never fail us as 
long as we persevere in fidelity to His holy service; 
and our delight is, under its protection, to live in 
poverty. See, my Lord, how I lay my sentiments 
before you in all simplicity. If, however, our Sister 
the Foundress continues to enjoy the happiness she 
possesses I shall rejoice provided she content herself 
with the privileges which you, my Lord, have either 
confirmed or granted her, and for the rest that she 
live as is fitting to her condition. 

Beseeching you my Lord, very humbly and with 
all earnestness to provide help for these good 
servants of God, and trusting that through your 
kindness and piety the divine mercy may come to 
their aid, I pray God to spread in abundance His 
holy benedictions upon you and your Church. 

I remain, with humble reverence, etc 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 127 

LVII. 

To Sister Anne Marie Rosset, Assistant and Mistress 
of Novices at Dijon. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1623. 

You know and you can never doubt how truly you 
are my dearest daughter. Lay claim to this title 
more and more by your charity in praying for me. 
Indeed, my daughter, this dear Mother (Favre) is a 
soul of true virtue. She is all for God, for the Rule, 
and for me. I hope you will always continue to 
feel that you have a faithful friend in her. The 
spirit of religion and even religion itself is destroyed 
by preoccupation about miserable human affections. 
If the intelligence of the Sisters be not clouded by 
them nor by self-love they will see the guidance of 
God over this soul, and through her over other souls, 
and will themselves be established in solid virtue. 
Keep the spirit of your novices at a high level and 
do it with vigour. Engrave in their hearts this 
maxim, that the love of their divine Saviour is the 
only love for them, and that in Him they must love 
their neighbour according to the order of duty and 
true charity. Oh God ! what should we seek on 
earth or aspire to in heaven save Thee who art our 
portion and our eternal inheritance ? My daughter, 
a Religious of the Visitation who should attach 
herself to anything whatsoever but God is not 



128 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

worthy of her vocation. Make this very clear to 
our Sisters. Each one must have a holy zeal to 
attain eternal life by the path which God has 
marked out for her. If our Sisters really love their 
holy Founder they will prove it not only by the 
attention and pleasure with which they read his 
writings, for all the world delights in them, but also 
by faithfully carrying out his teachings. That in 
comparable love and sweetness towards their neigh 
bour, that profound humility and lowliness of which 
he was so great a lover, and which put him at enmity 
with all ostentation, should above all be practised by 
them. Finally, let them make theirs the glorious gift 
he enjoyed of devout attention to the presence of God. 
My daughter, see that the spiritual exercises are 
held in great esteem by the novices. Bring this 
about: for prayer, recollection, and frequent ejacu- 
latory prayer are the oil of benediction in 
monasteries Give good books to those dear novices 
to read, so that their minds may be filled with 
profitable food wherewith to make useful reflection, 
and to undeceive themselves as to the value of the 
false maxims of the world. Make them value 
thoroughly the acts and exercises of their Directory, 
so that their memory being well stored with spiritual 
things, and their understanding well enlightened, 
our divine Master will (as I hope) soon warm their 
wills with His holy love. 

Your devoted. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 129 

LVIII. 

To the Rev. Father Dom John de Saint Francois, 
General of the Order of Feuillants. 

ON ST FRANCIS DE SALES.* 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

1624. 

Alas ! my Rev. Father, you command me to do 
what is beyond my capacity. The intimate know 
ledge that God has permitted me to acquire of the 
interior life of my blessed Father and Lord, and 
especially that with which He has favoured me since 
this holy man s decease (for the object being present 
somewhat, it seems to me, obscured the light), is, I 
feel, altogether beyond my deserts : and I confess to 
you quite frankly that I have no facility whatever 
in expressing myself. Yet to obey your Reverence 
and for the love and respect which I owe to the 
authority by which you command, I will write what 
comes to my mind in all simplicity, in the presence 
of God. 

First, then, I have always observed in him the 
perfect gift of faith accompanied with great clear 
ness, certitude, perception, and extreme suavity. 
It was a subject upon which he spoke admirably, 
and he once told me that God had bestowed upon 
him much light and knowledge of the mysteries of 

* This letter is taken from " Sainte Jeanne-Frar^oise 
Fremyot de Chantal: Sa Vie et ses (Euvres," Vol. II. 

9 



130 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

our holy faith, and he thought that he had a good 
grasp of the correct interpretation of the Church s 
teachings to her children. To this his life and 
writings bear witness. 

God had so fully illuminated this holy soul, or, as 
he put it, shed so clear a light in the highest point 
of his soul, that he had, so to say, but to open the 
eyes of his spirit and the excellencies of the truths 
of faith lay before him, and from this proceeded 
raptures, ecstacies, and celestial ardours. He sub 
mitted himself to the truths thus unveiled to him by 
a simple yielding up of his will, and the place wherein 
these illuminations were centred he called " The 
Sanctuary of God." It was his place of retreat, his 
every day abode, for notwithstanding continual 
exterior occupation he held his spirit in this interior 
solitude as much as was possible. The one longing, 
the sole aspiration and desire of this holy man, it 
always seemed to me, was to live by faith and 
according to the maxims of the Gospel. He used to 
say that the true way to serve God was to follow Him 
and walk in His footsteps by the pure light of grace, 
without the support of consolations, of feeling, of 
light, other than that of bare faith, and for this 
reason he valued derelictions, desolation, and dry- 
ness of spirit. He never stopped, he said, to think 
whether or no he had consolations, and that if Our 
Lord sent them he received them in simplicity; if 
they were not given him he made no reflections about 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 131 

their loss. But as a matter of fact he usually had 
great sensible sweetness, as was betrayed by his 
countenance, however slightly he withdrew into 
himself, which he was in the habit of doing. Thus 
did he draw good out of all things, turning all 
to the profit of his soul. The time of preparation 
for his sermons, which he usually spent walking 
about, was one of special illumination for him. 
Study, he said, provided him with prayer, and he 
came from it enlightened and full of holy affections. 

Several years ago he told me that he had no sen 
sible devotion in prayer, and that God operated in 
him without feeling, but by sentiments and illu 
minations, which were diffused in the intellectual 
part of his soul, the inferior part having no share 
therein. These were for the most part perceptions 
and sensibilities of simple unity and heavenly 
emotions which he did not try to fathom: for his 
practice was to hold himself in humility and lowli 
ness before God with the trustful reverence of a 
loving child. 

When writing to me he has often asked me to 
remind him when we met to tell me what God had 
given him in prayer. When I did so he would say, 
" These things are so impalpable, so pure, so intan 
gible, that one cannot explain them when they have 
passed, only their effects remain in the soul." 

For several years before his decease there was 
left him little leisure for prayer, as business over- 



132 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

whelmed him, and one day when I asked him if he 
had any time for prayer, he said: " No, but I do 
what is the same." In such wise he held himself 
always united to God, saying that in this life work 
and labour are prayer. And most certainly his life 
was a continual prayer. Though, from what has 
been said, it is easy to believe that the delightful 
union of his soul with God in prayer was not his 
only enjoyment. Oh ! indeed it was not, for how 
ever the will of God was presented to him he equally 
loved it. And in his last years he had, I believe, 
attained such purity in his love that all things were 
the same to him so long as he saw God s will in 
them. There was nothing in the world, as he used 
to say, that could give him any satisfaction out of 
God. Thus he lived, as was manifest to those who 
knew him, no more in himself but truly Jesus Christ 
lived in him. This universality in his love of the 
will of God was the more excellent and the purer by 
reason of the clear light which God diffused in his 
soul, and because of it his soul was neither subject 
to change nor to deception, and by it he perceived 
in himself the first movements of self-love which he 
faithfully suppressed the more perfectly to be united 
to God. He told me, that, sometimes in the depth 
of his greatest afflictions, he felt consolations beyond 
comparison more sweet than at ordinary times, for 
by means of this intimate union with God things 
most bitter became to him most sweet. 

But, if your Reverence wishes to see clearly the 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 133 



state of this holy soul on these points, read, if you 
please, the three or four last chapters in the " Divine 
Love."* All his actions were animated with the 
sole motive of pleasing God, and truly (as he says in 
this sacred book) he asked nought of heaven nor of 
earth but to see the will of God accomplished. How 
many times has he not repeated over to me those 
words of David: " O ! Lord, what have I in heaven, 
and besides Thee what do I desire on earth ? Thou 
art my portion and my eternal inheritance " He 
lived on the principle that what was not God was 
nothing to him. His eminent virtue and that 
universal indifference which was remarked in him 
by all were the product of this perfect union. I 
never read those chapters which treat of it in the 
ninth book of " Divine Love " without seeing clearly 
that as occasions arose he practised what he taught. 
That admirable but little known maxim, Ask for 
nothing, desire nothing, refuse nothing, which he 
faithfully carried out to the very end of his life, 
could not originate with one who was not entirely 
indifferent and dead to self. In regard to his 
actions such incomparable equality of mind did he 
possess that there was no changeableness in his 
attitude. He unquestionably felt keen resentment 
when subjected to rudeness or insult, above all 
when God was offended, or his neighbour oppressed ; 
but on such occasions, as is mentioned in his memoirs, 
he exercised complete self-control and would retire 
* The treatise on the Love of God. 



34 SELECTED LETTERS OP 



into himself with God and remain silent. Yet he 
none the less set to work, and that promptly, to 
remedy the evil, for he was the refuge, the succour, 
the support of all. 

Because he had acquired a perfect mastery of his 
passions, there reigned in his soul complete sub 
mission to God, and in his heart an imperturbable 
peace. "What is there that could disturb our 
peace ?" he said to me at Lyons. " When all is in 
confusion around me it does not trouble me, for 
what is all the world besides in comparison with 
peace of heart ?" This power was the outcome of his 
intense and virile faith, for he regarded all things, 
the least and the greatest, as ordained by that 
divine Providence in which he reposed with more 
tranquility than a child on its mother s bosom. He 
used to say that Our Lord taught him this lesson 
from his youth, and that, if he could be born again 
he would despise human prudence more than ever, 
and would let himself be still more entirely governed 
by divine Providence. He had very great illumina 
tion on this subject, and conveyed it forcibly to the 
souls he counselled and governed. All the under 
takings God committed to him he placed under the 
protection of this supreme government, and never 
was he more certain of an affair or more content 
amidst vicissitudes than when he had no other 
support than God. On the contrary, when human 
prudence foresaw the impossibility of the execution 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 135 

of a design his firm confidence in God alone remained 
unshaken. Therefore did he live without solicitude. 
I remarked this to him when he had made up his 
mind to establish our Congregation, and he replied: 
" I have no light as to how to do it, but I am sure 
that God will do it " ; and so it came about, and that 
far more quickly than he anticipated. Speaking of 
this confidence in God, I remember once many years 
ago, when attacked with a violent temptation, which 
he bravely resisted, he wrote to me: "I feel very 
much under its pressure. It seems to me that I 
have no strength to resist and that I should succumb 
if the occasion were presented to me, but the weaker 
I feel the more do I trust in God, and I assure myself 
that were the object to present itself, I should be 
invested with the power of God, and that my 
enemies would be as lambkins before me." 

Our Saint was not exempt from the stirrings of 
passions nor did he wish nor think it desirable to be 
so. Except for the purpose of governing and check 
ing them, which he said gave him pleasure, they 
were disregarded by him; and he looked upon them 
as excellent opportunities for practising virtue and 
establishing it more solidly in the soul. His own 
were so absolutely under his control that they obeyed 
him as slaves, and in the end hardly showed them 
selves at all. His was a manifestly bold and generous 
soul, very dear Father, strong to bear burdens and 
responsibilities and to carry out the undertakings 



136 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

with which God inspired him. Nothing, as he said, 
could induce him to abandon these ; not an inch 
would he abate, and he had a courage that conquered 
all difficulties. 

Certainly such perseverance as his, required 
wonderful strength of mind, for who has ever seen 
him out of humour, or losing one iota of self-control ? 
Who has ever seen his patience ruffled or his soul 
embittered against any one whomsoever ? and all 
because he had a guileless heart. 

That he was gentle, humble, and gracious none 
could fail to remark. His mind was clearer, freer, 
and broader than any other I have come in contact 
with; the prudence and the wisdom natural and 
supernatural with which God had endowed him 
were excellent and solid. 

Our Lord indeed forgot nothing in perfecting His 
work. " Charity," as he says, " entering into a 
soul brings with it every other virtue sweetly and 
unostentatiously in the degree and measure by 
which charity animated it." He made no mysteries, 
and did nothing that might excite admiration; there 
was no singularity about him, no display of great 
virtue to exalt him in the eyes of the vulgar. He 
walked the common way, but in so supernatural a 
manner that it seemed to me that of all to be admired 
in his life this was the most admirable trait. He 
had no affected ways, neither casting up his eyes 
nor closing them, but he kept them modestly 



ST. JANE FRANCES >E CHANfAL 



lowered and made no unnecessary gestures. His 
face, passive, sweet, and grave, portrayed the pro 
found tranquility within. 

Whoever observed his outward bearing was un 
failingly impressed. Whether at prayer, reciting 
the office, or saying Mass, his countenance shone 
with angelic splendour, but it was above all at the 
consecration of the Mass that it seemed to radiate. 
This has been remarked to me a thousand times. 
He had a special devotion to this adorable Sacra 
ment. It was his true life, his sole strength, and 
when carrying it in Procession he looked like one on 
fire with love. As his outpourings of love when 
before the Divine Sacrament, and his wonderful 
devotion to our Lady are treated of elsewhere I will 
not speak of them here. 

Oh, how worthy of admiration was the order with 
which God had endowed this blessed soul ! so much 
was it under the control of reason, so calm, and so 
lucid the light shed by God within it that absolutely 
nothing passed therein that was hidden from him. 

So clear was his view in regard to perfection of 
spirit that he could distinguish between the most 
subtle and intangible sensibilities, and never willingly 
would he tolerate the less perfect in his soul; his 
burning love could not suffer it. It was not that he 
did not commit some imperfections, but they were 
always from frailty or pure surprise, and I never 
knew him to leave in his heart one single attachment, 



138 SELECTED LETTERS OP 

however small, that was contrary to perfection. 
Purer than the sun, whiter than the snow in every 
act, resolve, and desire, he was united to God not 
only by his purity, but in humility and simplicity. 

To hear him speak of God and of perfection was a 
delight, for his terms were precise and intelligible, 
so that they easily brought home to the understand 
ing the high and subtle points of the spiritual life 
and this great gift he used for the guidance of souls. 
Reading the depths of their hearts and clearly seeing 
the motives from which they acted, he guided and 
governed them with a skill other than that of this 
world. His indefatigable charity for souls is well 
known, and the incomparable delight with which he 
laboured amongst sinners, never resting till he had 
put the conscience in peace and set the soul on its 
way to heaven. What care did he not bestow upon 
the weak and repentant sinner, making himself one 
with him, weeping together with him over his sins, 
and becoming so one in heart with his penitent that 
none could conceal anything from him. 

Zeal for the salvation of souls was, I consider, his 
dominant virtue, and in a sense it may be said that 
he preferred the service of his neighbour, for whom 
he wore himself out, to the immediate service of 
God. His charity was regulated in a remarkable 
manner, for he loved the many souls for whom he 
had a special regard, and they were great in number, 
not equally yet perfectly, and purely, recognizing 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 139 

the most estimable virtue and the measure of grace 
in each and giving it place accordingly in his regard. 
While to all he bore the utmost respect because he 
saw God in his neighbour and him in God, yet his 
humility never prevented him from reverencing the 
dignity of his position as Bishop, and with what 
gravity and majesty he bore himself in it. 

I now venture to repeat what so many persons 
have said to me that when they saw this man it 
seemed to them that they looked upon Our Lord on 
earth. And to me he always appeared the living 
picture in which the Son of God, Our Lord, was 
portrayed, for most truly the order and economy of 
his soul was divine. 

I remain, my Reverend Father, 

Your very humble, obedient, and unworthy 
daughter and servant in Our Lord, 

SISTER JANE FRANCES FRMYOT 
(Of the Visitation of Holy Mary). 

LIX. 

To a Religious of the First Monastery of the 
Visitation at Paris. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1625. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

The wings of this little butterfly that thrusts 
itself out into the light before its time need to be 
clipped; otherwise it will come to destruction. And 



140 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



in like manner, my daughter, as soon as you perceive 
your mind taking these high nights you must bring 
it down to the foot of the crucifix by a profound but 
gentle act of humility, holding yourself there all 
confused and abashed. Your doing this will put an 
end to the trouble. Walk simply, my daughter, 
and you will walk happily. Crush self-love, stamp 
it out; and with it self-esteem. Let true humility 
take its place, that humility which always and in all 
circumstances aims at oblivion and at being under 
the feet of all. This lesson is a difficult one, but 
God invites you to the practice of it. Follow His 
will and His example and He will lead you on until 
you attain that perfection to which His Providence 
has called you. Strive to keep your thoughts off 
yourself, and never scrutinize what is passing within 
you. Let this truth dwell in your heart and have 
it always before your mind that whatever little good 
there may be in you is from God, and that there 
fore you have no right to take pride in it, nor to 
think any the better of yourself because of it. 
Remember that of yourself you are mere nothing 
ness, possessing only the abjection of your sins and 
of your countless imperfections. And bearing this 
in mind, welcome contempt and all that kills pride. 
Make use for this end of that thought of yours that 
the Sisters may very justly think you to be full of 
self-love and self-esteem, or of any other such 
humiliating reflection. Desire to be employed in 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 141 

low and abject things. Not that you should seek 
them, but that you be always disposed willingly to 
accept them. Beg your good Mother to help you to 
acquire this dear virtue of humility, without, how 
ever, asking for anything in particular ; for to choose 
would spoil everything. If you do all this you will 
find the source of true life, and if you do it not, you 
will never have any peace nor be able to correspond 
to your vocation and to the designs of God over you. I 
beseech His Goodness to grant you this precious grace. 

Yours, etc. 

LX. 

To the Countess de Toulonjon. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

CHAMBERY, 1625. 

Not as soon as I thought, my dearest daughter, 
shall we have the pleasure of seeing Mgr. of Bourges, 
and indeed it will be a very great pleasure. Ever 
since he was cured of his illness and received the 
other graces which Our Lord has bestowed upon 
him I feel drawn to him by a peculiar appreciation : 
and neither do I wish to cease, nor can I cease, from 
praising and thanking our good God for His great 
mercy to him. Although he frequently writes to 
me he has made no allusion in any of his letters to 
what you tell me he has done for my son.* I will 

* Madame de Toulonjon having learnt that her uncle, 
the Archbishop of Bourges, had made his will in favour of her 
brother, the Baron de Chantal, and left her out, was deeply 



142 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

speak to him about it when I have the honour of 
meeting him, and see if I cannot have the good 
fortune of obtaining from him something to your 
advantage. He always appears to me to have a 
great affection for you, but I do not think he has 
much in the way of temporal goods beyond the 
furniture of his house. However, I know little about 
this. But my good and dearest daughter, even if 
this good lord has altogether forgotten you, why 
on that account give way to sorrow and resentment ? 
Oh ! cease to do so, my daughter, for you might offend 
God by it. You are too much attached to the 
things of this life and take them too much to heart. 
What have you to fear ? Is it that the fact of 
having so many children deprives you of the means 
of providing for and educating them according to 
their birth and your ambition ? Have no such 
apprehensions, I beg of you, for in this you wrong 
the Providence of Him who gives them to you, and 
who is good enough and rich enough to nourish them 
and provide for them as is expedient to His glory 
and their salvation. That is all that we should 
desire for our children, and not look for worldly 
prosperity in this miserable and mortal life. 

Now my dearest daughter, lovingly look upon all 
these little creatures as entrusted to you by God, 

wounded at this proceeding, and when writing to her holy 
Mother had justified herself for her anxieties by alleging 
the obligation to provide for the future of her children. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 143 



who has given them to you; care for them, cherish 
them tenderly, and bring them up not in vanity, but 
faithfully in the fear of God. So doing, and trust 
fully leaving all these anxieties of yours to divine 
Providence, you will see how sweetly and tenderly 
it will provide for all, so that you will have good 
reason to bless and rely wholly upon it. Take my 
advice, dearest daughter, and cast yourself into these 
safe arms: serve God, cast aside vanity, live in 
perfect harmony with him whom God has given you, 
interest yourself in the good government of your 
household, be active and diligent in applying your 
self to that work, and begin from this time forth to 
live after the manners and customs of a true mother. 
If I had not had the courage to do this from the 
beginning in my married life we should not have had 
the means of livelihood, for we had a smaller income 
than you have and were fifteen thousand crowns in 
debt. Be brave then, dearest daughter; employ 
your time and your mind not in worrying and being 
anxious about the future, but in serving God and 
your household, for such is the divine will. Act thus, 
and you will see how blessings will attend your under 
takings. I feel that I am bound to speak thus fully 
and openly to you, and I hope that you will profit by 
what I say, for I say it with much love and with a 
great desire for your good; and that you will often 
read over this letter and put its contents in practice. 
May God grant you this grace, and may His Goodness 



144 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

pour abundantly upon you and your dear family 
His choicest blessings. I cordially salute them all. 

You know, dearest child, how you are my very own 
and most dear daughter, and that I am your very 
humble mother, most lovingly desirous of your true 
happiness. 

LXI. 

To Sister Anne Catherine de Sautereau, Mistress oj 
Novices at Grenoble. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1626. 
MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

I will do as you desire and in God s presence 
will write what He in His Goodness inspires me to 
say. I am praying that I may do this. First, then, 
it seems to me, my daughter, that in your devotion 
you should strive to be generous, noble, frank and 
sincere, and build upon a groundwork of profound 
humility which engenders true obedience, sweet 
charity, and that artless simplicity that makes us 
amiable to every one alike, bearing with and excusing 
all. Try to instil this same spirit into your novices 
and into all the souls that God may at any time put 
under your care. 

On the other hand, dearest daughter, you must 
leave yourself wholly in the hands of God, so that 
your dear soul and the souls of those you guide, may 
be, as far as you can make them, independent of all 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 145 



that is not God; aiming straight and with such 
singleness of purpose that friendships, looks, words 
may never be wasted in frivolous amusement with 
creatures. By walking in the perfect way of exact 
observance of the rules of the Institute, all impedi 
ments are left behind on the road and not given a 
thought; for in all things the eye of God only, that 
is, His divine good pleasure, is considered. This is a 
road without bypaths, daughter, but it is solid, short, 
simple, and safe, and by it the soul quickly attains 
to a rare union with God which is her end. Let us 
then faithfully pursue this way. Truly it cuts short 
multiplicity and leads us to that unity which is the 
one thing necessary. I know that you are attracted 
to this happiness. Give yourself up to it, then, and 
you will repose quite at your ease in the bosom of 
divine Providence; for souls who cast aside every 
aim and end but that of pleasing God are bound to 
dwell in peace in this tabernacle. 

Abraham (I do love this patriarch) left his country 
and his family to obey God, but, my daughter 
dearest, the only Son of God accomplished the will 
of His heavenly Father by remaining in the country 
of his birth and working there. * Be satisfied, then, 
to imitate the Saviour, for no perfection can equal 
His. And do not look elsewhere, but apply your 
self with diligence to do lovingly and cheerfully the 

* Sister Anne Catherine de Sautereau was a native of 
Grenoble. 

10 



146 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

works that Providence and obedience put into your 
hands. The chief exercises of the novitiate are 
mortification and prayer. I have said enough, and 
perhaps too much, to one whom God Himself en 
lightens and directs. I pray His Goodness to bring 
your spirit to the perfection of His most pure love. 
Your soul is endeared to me more than I can tell you. 
Rest assured of this and pray for her who is wholly 
3 7 ours in Our Lord. God be praised ! 



LXII. 

To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior 
of the First Monastery of Paris. 

Vive t%4 Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 

Jan. 6, 1626. 

Praise be to our Good God ! I assure you, my 
very dear daughter, that it has been a great conso 
lation to me to read your letter and to see the state 
of your good heart, in which I perceive the divine 
Goodness diffuses many holy and profitable lights 
which you turn to good account. These thoughts 
are worthy of being noted; they are beautiful, and 
are great graces from the divine mercy. And so is 
this diversity of states in which you continually find 
yourself, for it holds the soul more detached and 
more simply united to its God in whom all its happi 
ness consists. I see also that suffering is not wanting 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 147 

to you. Suffering is the crucible in which Our Lord 
wishes entirely to purify you. Your interior corre 
spondence ought wholly to consist in a simple hand 
ing over of yourself, in a complete self-surrender; 
then for the exterior, humility, submissiveness and 
meekness. And I beseech you, even if interior 
lights superabound, not to fail to seek counsel, 
preferring the opinions of others to your own, in as 
far as it is possible. This is one of the chief fruits 
of that most holy humility which should inspire 
all our actions. Indeed, had your letter been as 
long again it would only have been all the more 
welcome to me. May God give me the grace to 
draw profit from it ! Although in my unworthiness 
I cannot walk by so high and excellent a way, still, 
I hope that it will do me good. 

I am very glad that you have received those 
two good subjects, and I thank you with all my 
heart for our little Adrienne. It is quite true that 
our dear Mgr. Bourges grows daily in piety and 
devotion, which, methinks, must be real because 
there is so much humility, meekness of heart, and 
detachment from the things of earth about it. We 
shall pray very specially for good M. de N. He is a 
person whom I always look up to, and so I do to the 
Rev. Father Superior. I send them both my 
respectful salutations. Hold yourself very humble, 
my dearest daughter, and think yourself very un 
worthy of the graces of God: for this little holding 



148 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

back will draw them on you all the more. I pray 
His Goodness daily to increase these graces in your 
soul, which I love more than I can express. 



LXIII. 

To the Same. 

Vive &4 Tesus ! 

ANNECY, 

2Sth Jan., 1626. 

I see quite well, good dear daughter, that nothing 
will satisfy that heart of yours unless you make 
clear to me the holy affection it has for my miserable 
little heart, and I reciprocate your love to a degree 
that I cannot express. Oh God ! what will it be to 
love each other with a love that is ever present and 
beyond all earthly love, for such is the gift the great 
Lover of our souls will bestow on us ! Let us try, 
my daughter, to grow in this divine love from moment 
to moment. Alas ! I desire it, but you you 
possess it. For this may God be praised and also 
for the good order of your house, which our dear 
Father M. Vincent* tells me is a matter worthy of 
great thanskgiving and consolation. 

Believe me, it is a true delight to me to know 
that our Rules are so faithfully kept. Now observe 
from this how Mother Superiors should see that the 
Rule is carried out in regard to Ecclesiastical 

* St. Vincent de Paul. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 149 

Superiors, and how the Mothers themselves should 
faithfully observe what is prescribed for them, so 
that by example we may instruct and strengthen 
those whom God has committed to our care. Pray 
continually, I beg of you, for our dear Father, Dom 
Juste, and for the affair of the Beatification of our 
Blessed Father. Our Holy Father the Pope has 
issued a Decree about beatifications which causes 
me some apprehension.* But in all things we must 

conform our wills to that of God. 

Yours, etc. 

LXIV. 

Mother Marie Adrienne Picket, Superior at Ritmilly. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1626. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

The letters I receive from your Sisters 
Councillors are the greatest comfort to me, for they 
bear witness to the union and content that reigns 
between you and them. If you practice all you 
teach, there is every reason that this should not 
only continue but increase. Let the old feel that 
you are satisfied with them, treating them with 
cordial love, respect and confidence. Be one in 

* The fears of St. Jane Frances were not without cause, 
for the popular enthusiasm occasioned by the many 
miracles wrought through the intercession of the holy 
Bishop resulted in many ex voto offerings and much public 
worship being paid to his remains, all of which was for 
bidden by the Decree, pending the decision of the Church, 



150 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

heart with them as true sisters ought to be; for 
although they should honour and obey you as their 
Mother, still, you ought to treat them as sisters and 
companions. And to the young be as a benign 
mother with her daughters, not pressing them too 
much unless it be to encourage them in a loving way. 
What I am writing is in reference to your last letter, 
in which you tell me that you often say they must 
be open with you. My dear daughter, you must 
lead them to this openness by kindness and en 
couragement; for the spirit of the Visitation is one 
of gentleness, and this must be preserved at all costs, 
else yours would not be a Visitation house even 
though all the rest of the Rules should be observed, 
for this, the most important of our characteristics 
would be wanting. Let then this holy gentleness 
with every one be your chief care. Retiring and 
tranquil in all your undertakings, carry them out 
prudently so that God may be glorified by your 
intercourse with those outside the monastery and by 
the sweetness of your government with those within. 
You are aware that your natural disposition needs 
bridling and that you must keep it in check. Do 
this then for God and you will receive all manner of 
graces. Keep near the good God and read carefully 
your Rules, for He wishes that in the charge He has 
committed to you you should become a living Rule, 
to His sovereign glory. 

I had not thought of saying all this to you, but as 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 151 



I write God has put it into my mind. Profit by it 
then, my very dear daughter, and let this letter 
serve you for a long time and for always, as I am 
sure my good Angel and yours have dictated it. If 
you saw my heart and its keen affection for your 
welfare, you would indeed love me. 

For the rest, his Lordship bids me take our Sisters 
into Lorraine. If I can manage it, and that he 
approves, I ll go a little out of my way to see you. 
I send you some relics of our holy Father. Madame 
Garbillon seems inclined to take her daughter to you 
herself after Easter. There are still plenty of others, 
but we shall try to send you those who are fairly 
well off. However, you will be obliged to floor your 
dormitory in order to accommodate so many sub 
jects. See to this in good time so as to have in the 
necessary planks and wood. Also have the garden 
wall raised a little. This, and the well, is, in my 
opinion, all you need. 

I cannot express to you, my dearest daughter, 
how I love your little house. In it may God make 
you worthy to serve Him and all your dear daughters 
perfectly, not forgetting the good and dear Sister 
de la Flechere, who has lodged us so comfortably. 
Show her much affection and comfort her with all 
simplicity and confidence. The poor woman needs 
it, for she is in great trouble about her affairs. 
Good-bye, dearest daughter. 

Yours most affectionately. 



152 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



Pray for me that I may do God s holy will. 
Amen. 

P.S. I must add this word. Study meekness 
and humble gravity. I beg it of you. The Chapter 
on Religious Modesty, well practised, will give you 
this grace. 

LXV. 

To the Sisters of the Visitation.* 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1626. 
MY VERY DEAR SlSTERS, 

I present to you, in all the sincerity of my 
heart, the directions and customs which have been 
established in this monastery by our late holy Father 
and Founder, having arranged them in what seemed 
to me the most convenient form for their preserva 
tion. And I have added, following his injunctions, 
some things which he had written with his own hand, 
and others, which he had marked, but had not yet 
written. 

The majority of the Sisters who have known him 

* Saint Jane Frances originally intended this letter to 
serve as a Preface to the Book of Customs, but deeming that 
she had spoken with too much authority therein, and also 
in order not to give any pretext for the calumnies of those 
who accused her of desiring to pose as General of her Order, 
the holy foundress kept back its publication, and never in 
her lifetime gave it to the Institute. Amongst her sisters 
she would not accept any other title than that of Eldest 
Daughter of the Family. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 153 

are aware, as I am, that it was his wish that these 
Directories, Ceremonials, and Customs should, in the 
future, be for ever observed in all our monasteries of 
the Visitation, in order, permanently, to keep up the 
union and conformity which until now has existed 
between them and the first monastery. To further 
this end, it has been my desire, by means of the first 
Sisters of our holy Order and of the entire Chapter 
here, to make them known, so that with me they may 
bear witness, to those who succeed us, that they are 
the same Directories, Ceremonials, Customs, and 
Ordinances which were established in this monastery 
of Annecy by our said holy Founder, and that they 
have been observed by these first Sisters, and by all 
the Communities which they governed, in as far as 
they have been communicated to them. But because 
it has pleased divine Providence to confer on me, 
though so unworthy, the honour, grace and happi 
ness of being one of the first sisters employed in 
beginning this most admirable and holy manner of 
life, our holy Father and Founder has instructed me 
and them with peculiar care. Therefore, dearest 
Sisters, I think it will not be distasteful to you if I 
exhort you to be faithful to the observance of things 
which have been recommended for the welfare of 
our souls with such tender love and zeal. Nor do 
I think you will gainsay my recalling you to some 
notable points to which I know he specially wished 
that we should adhere. 



154 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

This I do in true affection, for, to me they sum up 
all that is necessary for us and nothing more is 
needed by us. His great fear, our Blessed Father 
told me, was lest we should not thoroughly devote 
ourselves to the practice of the Rule. And I, also 
fearing this, pray God that our very apprehension 
may make us all the more faithful to our observance. 
" The precepts," he said, " of all virtue and perfec 
tion are contained in our Rules and Constitutions." 
Oh, how true this is ! For if we have but one heart 
in God, if we honour Him in the person of one 
another; if we are simple, humble, chaste, poor, 
retiring, and all else that is prescribed, shall we not 
fulfil all perfection ? Again, he said that our 
Institute teaches us sufficiently what to do, and our 
part is to do it. Let us, then, labour, I beseech you, 
very dear Sisters, with our whole hearts, whether it 
be in obeying or in commanding, to become living 
Rules, not according to our own human wisdom and 
prudence, but according to what is set down, practis 
ing it, exactly and punctually, to the letter, without 
gloss or comment ; and let us rather die than under 
any pretext whatsoever depart from this holy way. 

The peculiar obedience we owe their Lordships, 
our prelates, is a special virtue of our Institute. 
They ought to be its protectors and consequently 
cannot command us anything at variance with it. 
Many a time has our Blessed Father exhorted us to 
be on our guard against opening the door to any 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 155 



change, for with it all will go. Not even in things 
of small importance would he have us yield, for 
little changes open the way to greater, and if we 
want to keep intact what we have received, and 
what has been so wisely instituted, we must change 
nothing. Old established customs, though but 
mediocre, are better than new ones that appear to 
us more desirable. Above all he charged Superiors 
to take heed to this, and insisted that the good 
or evil estate of their monasteries rests in their 
hands; that care and attention to their duty should, 
in them, be universal ; that they ought not to neglect 
even the most insignificant points; and said that 
their love, cordial support, and zeal for the perfection 
of the Sisters in exact observance would make their 
monasteries abodes of happiness, and preserve their 
Institute. We must aspire, then, to nothing more 
and to nothing less than what is prescribed for us. 
All these words of Our Blessed Father should be 
engraven on our hearts and practised literally. If, 
however, times and places demonstrate the necessity 
of accommodating in some point, and the change 
affects in no way the Rules, Constitutions, and 
Customs essential to the conformity of the convents, 
such change can be made. But we should first 
consult the Spiritual Father, some capable and pious 
persons, and the old established monasteries of the 
Order, above all Annecy, which latter, after having 
maturely considered the proposition, should confer 



156 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

with the monastery of Lyons, so that the changes 
introduced may not be made lightly, nor except 
when of great utility for the welfare of the monasteries 
and in cases of evident necessity. Another grave 
fear entertained by Our Blessed Father was, lest 
the spirit of worldly prudence and wisdom should 
glide in amongst us. Here also then should we be 
on our guard, for it would be our ruin; above all if 
it crept in in regard to the election of Mother 
Superiors and of those Sisters who have the chief 
charges in the monasteries. Most careful and con 
scientious should the Sisters be on this point, never 
receiving any Superior but her whom they them 
selves have elected; for this the Rule commands. 
Make no account on these occasions of certain 
natural or acquired talents, of the gift of speaking 
well, of fine presence, of certain attractive qualities, 
of brightness of manner, of nobility, or of many 
years of priority in age or in Religion, nor of such 
qualities which if they be not accompanied with 
what is solid, should not be considered by us. 
Rather let us choose those who have discretion and 
good judgement, who are simple, sincere, humble, 
who have zeal for the observance. Not those who 
abound in their own sense, for such as are affected 
with this malady usually discredit the spirit of 
religion in order to introduce their own. We should 
employ those who do not seek the higher charges, 
judging themselves unworthy of any. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 157 

Such sisters will do admirably all that obedience 
orders, and the spirit of God will govern in them. 
Believe me, this point is of great importance, my 
dearest Sisters. Be faithful to it, then, I beg of you. 

In the same way must we dread human prudence 
and human considerations in the reception of sub 
jects (the good choice of which is essential for the 
preservation of the Institute); above all of subjects 
who are infirm or defective in body. You will tell 
me that this has been so often recommended in our 
writings that there is no need for me to speak of it 
here. Yes, this is true, yet I cannot refrain from 
repeating myself, because I see that this article on 
the reception of those who have some bodily defect 
is often combated by wise persons, and is quite 
contrary to natural prudence, which sometimes 
furnishes so many good reasons that poor charity 
has trouble enough to hold herself above it. Where 
fore, to observe this point intact we need great 
courage, and we should often call to mind that it is 
the end of our Institute, and the desire of desires 
of our holy Institutor, as is shown by his warning 
to those who infringe it. And see how by this law 
he has provided us with a means of practising the 
two cherished virtues of our Congregation to which 
he so constantly exhorted us : gentle charity towards 
our neighbour, and love of our own humiliation. 
All that can help us to gain these virtues ought to 
be very dear to us, since they are the foundation 



158 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

and mainstay of the whole spiritual edifice of the 
Visitation. Let us then cleave to them, humbling 
ourselves more and more, so that we may accept 
lovingly and with a welcome all that is abject in the 
eyes of the world. Thus may we esteem ourselves 
very poor and little in comparison to others, desiring 
no other excellence than not to excel, depending 
wholly on the good pleasure of God, seeking in all 
things only His glory, for this, as you know, is the 
characteristic of the daughters of the Visitation. 
Oh ! my dearest daughters, how w r e should prize 
it ! It is the one thing worth caring about. For 
the love of God, let us preserve it in its entirety, and 
beware of the desire of excelling and of self-esteem, 
which would rob us of it. Continually bear in mind 
all that our Blessed Father has both left us in his 
writings and said to us on this subject, so that our 
undertakings may be adorned with this holy virtue. 
I shudder as I write and cannot keep back my tears 
from the fear that some day this spirit will be lessened 
or lost. Oh my God ! permit not this, but rather 
let our Institute cease to be. My Sisters, I entreat 
you to be faithful. When I recall the labours, cares, 
and pains through which our holy Founder established 
and confirmed us as we now are, and his intense 
desire that this spirit should continue unimpaired, 
I feel that I would willingly give my life to preserve 
it. With all the strength of my soul then I say: 
Be jealous of it, for it is the supreme means of draw- 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 159 

ing down upon us the grace of God, in whose hands 
Our Blessed Father has left us with the assurance 
that within the paternal Arms of the sovereign 
Providence of God we shall never lack grace to 
maintain our Institute in its first fervour, provided 
we are faithful to its spirit. 

When at Lyons he gave me the good and solid 
reasons on which he had formed his final resolve to 
leave us under the authority of their Lordships the 
prelates. He added, with a deep and humble sense 
of confidence: " Jesus Christ will be your Head and 
your Protector the happiness of your Congregation 
will not depend on being placed under the govern 
ment of one Superior, but on the fidelity of each 
Sister individually, and of all together, to unite 
themselves to God by an exact and punctual 
observance." These are very consoling and striking 
words, full of faith as they are. I am aware that 
they are in the Book of Customs, yet I feel impelled 
to quote them again here, for I should like to write 
them in a hundred places, and above all in the 
depths of your hearts. We should look upon them 
as the last will and testament of our holy Founder, 
and by faithful practice keep them inviolably. In 
them we shall find our happiness and the one and 
only means of preserving untarnished the spirit of 
our Institute, which is a spirit strong and finely 
tempered. By means of them shall we also learn 
how to hide ourselves and how to dwell in peace in 



160 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

the paternal bosom of our good God, humbly 
trusting that these his words will produce deeds. 
So we must not be anxious, no matter what happens 
to us, but remain ever tranquil, striving with the 
assistance of divine grace not to philosophize on 
what may never come about. For our Blessed 
Father said to me: " To maintain our Congregation 
we may search in vain amongst human means for 
any better way than our Rule." 

He likewise told me that he intended to put things 
still more plainly, so as to secure that unity and 
conformity amongst the monasteries and that spirit 
of humility, with all of which God had already so 
abundantly blessed them; for he longed above all 
things that they should continue as they are. He 
ordered me to see that, to the permissions for founda 
tions given by the Bishops, the article on " Founda 
tions " which is in the Book of Customs should be 
added. The principal exterior means that he judged 
suitable for keeping up union was conformity to and 
correspondence with Annecy in everything regarding 
the complete observance received from him. " Al 
though," he said, " it is established in a small town, 
it has nevertheless been the will of divine Providence 
that the germ of the Congregation of the Visitation 
should be formed there, and there receive its law 
and foundations. Wherefore the other monasteries 
of the Visitation are always to acknowledge the 
house of Annecy as their mother and source, and 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 161 

maintain with it the closest union of charity, con 
forming themselves entirely to it, having particular 
intercourse with it, and referring to it in order to be 
instructed in the doubts and difficulties which may 
arise in practising the Rule and Customs. Such, I 
assure you with entire truthfulness, was his express 
wish, and he informed me of it in a manner full of 
graciousness and wisdom. Conformity to his wishes, 
and likewise the happiness which this monastery 
possesses in being the depository of his holy body, 
will always induce the other houses to keep up an 
affectionate union with us here. And as he asked 
this on your parts so did he desire that Annecy 
should make you all a return of unstinted service, 
giving both materially and of its members with a 
great zeal and a large-hearted affection, while keep 
ing up the observance even to the most minute 
regulations conscientiously and exactly, so that here 
it may be always found practised in its pristine 
vigour and integrity. 

I must not omit to repeat these words of his, also 
said to me at Lyons: " It is by a special providence 
of God that the Jesuit Fathers have so great an 
affection and charity for us. We should value this 
and return it, holding them in singular respect and 
giving them our confidence, for they will be a great 
help to us. It is not, however, necessary so to 
attach ourselves to their Order as to lose our liberty, 
for this we must jealously guard. Neither should 

M 



162 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

it prevent us from union with other Orders with 
which we ought to keep in touch, for our Congrega 
tion should have a universal spirit"; and again: 
" I do not meant hat those who counsel our Sisters 
are to change their exercises or their manner of 
carrying them out, for there must be no change, and 
in this they must be firm." 

Such is almost word for word what I learned from 
his lips, and to know his will is sufficient, I feel 
assured, in the goodness of your hearts, to render 
you docile to it. For me, it but remains to urge you 
to this, not only exteriorly, but what is of far more 
consequence, interiorly, in the spirit, to be cordial, 
gentle, humble, artless, poor with a poverty which 
keeps us to a holy medium in everything, avoiding 
superfluities and all that savours of ostentation. To 
all this I affectionately entreat you with all the 
earnestness of which I am capable. I cannot truly 
bring my letter to a close without congratulating this 
dear convent of Annecy on the privileges and graces 
with which eternal Providence has been pleased to 
favour it in rendering it lovable and worthy of respect 
to all the other houses, for where will true daughters 
of this Order be found who hold it not in high esteem 
and who envy it not its privileges, above all that of 
being the dear guardians of the sacred body of its 
Founder ? verily, a most precious grace, for which it 
ought unceasingly to offer the sacrifice of praise to 
the divine Majesty. But, my very dear daughters, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 163 

what, think you, ought to be this sacrifice of praise 
in thanskgiving for so great a benefit ? None other 
surely than the constant and persevering offering 
of a very exact and holy observance to all contained 
in the Institute, so that it will always there be found 
practised in its perfect vigour and integrity. See, 
my dear daughters, to what our birthright obliges us. 

Let us then remain very humble, very poor in 
our own esteem, and in holy fear before God, showing 
our appreciation of the dignity conferred upon us 
not by esteeming ourselves above others, which 
would but turn to harm the priceless gifts we possess, 
but rather by being the most humble, the most lowly, 
the most faithful of all. 

May God grant us this grace ! Amen. 

May I venture to add a very humble prayer to 
our Sisters the Superiors, that they will keep in mind 
this word of the Rule: " Let us be before God under 
the feet of all our Sisters "? Ah ! my God, if we 
treat them so, if we love our Sisters with a truly 
maternal love, which is solicitous, vigilant, zealous for 
the welfare of its children; if we govern them not 
according to our own views we shall draw upon our 
family all manner of blessings. Let them feel that 
you have a mother s heart and solicitude for them, 
keeping their minds tranquil and contented, and you 
can do what you like with them. 

All I have said above, very dear Sisters, I have 



164 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

said solely moved by love and desire. I reiterate 
it all with the most emphatic and tender entreaties 
from the depth of my heart. All our happiness is 
shut up in it. We are obliged to it by vow. It is 
our way of perfection of which we shall have to render 
an account at the hour of death. Think well on this. 

I pray the divine Goodness, through the inter 
cession of His Holy Mother and of our Blessed 
Father, to pour on you all the abundant treasures of 
His grace, so that generously and cheerfully you may 
continue to walk on this road, gaining by it the full 
ness of all perfection in this life and in the next the 
prize of a blessed eternity. 

Pardon the great length of this letter and its 
confidences, and obtain from the divine Mercy eternal 
salvation for her who wishes you God s best graces 
in abundance and who is, with unbounded affection, 

Devotedly yours. 

LXVI. 

To Sister Anne Marie de Lage de Puylaurens, 
Assistant and Mistress of Novices at Bourges. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 1626. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

God has indeed favoured you in giving you 
His holy light and strength to extricate yourself from 
the dangerous temptation against your good, virtu 
ous Mother. It is the devil s doing, in the hope of 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 165 

upsetting you both by disuniting you. God be 
blessed who has delivered you. Take great care 
never to fall into it again and keep invariably united 
to your written Rule, and to the living rule which is 
your Superior. For it may be that God will permit 
you to be under a very imperfect Superior, and, if 
so, endure it. The spirit of God is there for you, 
and think of nothing save that. Most assuredly, if 
faithful you will never come to grief by this road. 

Yes, of course, dearest daughter, your timidity 
comes from self-love. For the love of God, master 
your inclination and live as the Rule tells us, accord 
ing to reason and to the will of God. If you yourself 
do not make up your mind to this, there is no way of 
helping you. Yoxi can be told what you ought to do, 
but no one can do it but yourself. Be brave then. 
God requires this of you. He calls you to a high 
perfection, and your true way, the solitary road by 
which you can attain it, is by corresponding faith 
fully to the exact observance of the Institute, and 
this with a holy fervour of spirit, humbly, sweetly 
and simply. It consoles me to hear that you have 
cut short your introspections, and that you are 
more tranquil in the desire for your advancement, 
this eagerness comes from nothing but self-love. Be 
watchful against it always, I beg of you, and 
accustom yourself to regard the will of God in all 
things and to unite yourself to it. There is nothing 
changed in the ceremonial. You can take as you 



166 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

think fit from the Book of Customs and the Spiritual 
Directory for the instruction of your Novices, whom 
I affectionately salute, and you also whom my soul 
cherishes with a special and cordial love. I beseech 
of you to be cordial and generous. 



LXVII. 

To the Baron de Chantal, the Saint s Son. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1626. 

I have an intense longing for news of you, as I 
cannot but feel anxious about this pain you are 
suffering. If I could but ease it by bearing it in my 
own body ! God so willing, what a relief it would 
be to me, for my heart is sore at the thought of you. 
Yet, believe me, my dearest Son, this suffering is 
sent for the profit of your soul. Bear it then as 
sweetly and as patiently as you can. It will help to 
win heaven for you. Lift up your heart often to 
that blessed country. The happiness that awaits 
us there is eternal, while the sorrows of this life soon 
pass away. And I beseech you, my own beloved 
Son, since your condition obliges you to row on the 
tempestuous sea of this world, try never to swallow 
its waters, but drink rather of those of Divine grace, 
turning in all your needs with a loving, filial trust 
to that source of mercy. Love above all else, and 
fear to displease, the God of sovereign goodness who 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 167 



alone can make you happy both here and hereafter. 
That you may possess in abundance His most 
precious graces is the abiding wish of her who with all 
her heart loves and cherishes you, her own special one. 

Your good Mother. 

LXVIII. 

To the Same. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1627. 

May blessings of every description be bestowed 
upon my very dear son and beloved daughter for 
this new year and for always, so that after having 
lived long and happily together here on earth they 
may continue in the enjoyment of one another in 
eternal glory. This is my wish of wishes for you, 
dearest son, and for that most charming little wife 
whom God has given you and whom I love so 
tenderly for your sake. I long for news as to the 
health of both of you and of the dear little daughter,* 
whom may God also make altogether His own if it 
please Him. 

I still look forward to visiting you next summer, 
as Mother de Chatel, who is Superior here (at 
Annecy), desires me to go to Orleans, and you are so 
near that I hope to be able to see you and your little 
family. This consolation I promise myself with the 
help of divine Providence which I unceasingly invoke 
* Marie de Chantal, afterwards Madame de Sevigne. 



i68 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

for you, that it may lead you securely through all 
the miseries and temptations of this wretched life, 
beset as it is with occasions of separating us from 
God s holy fear and love. My beloved son, never 
put a foot outside the safe keeping of this love and 
fear. Think of the eternal life to which we are all 
journeying and of the instability of this one, which 
is but a roadway on which we pass from one sorrow 
to another. In the name of God let us so live here 
that we may live together eternally in everlasting 
happiness and glory. This desire consumes the 
heart of your unworthy Mother, who loves you 
beyond words. 

LXIX. 

To M. de Coulanges, Junior, at Paris. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
SlR, nth January, 1627. 

I bless God with all my heart for the good 
news you give me of your happy marriage and of the 
complete recovery of my son. Indeed, I am allied 
to your honourable family by so many obligations 
and so close an affection that I cannot but share in a 
large measure all the good and evil fortune that 
befalls you; therefore have I every reason, seeing 
you so happy in this marriage, to rejoice with you 
and to congratulate your family. Thanking God, as 
I do with all my heart, for this great blessing, I beg 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 169 

of Him in His infinite goodness to spread an abund 
ance of graces upon your union and to give you many 
prosperous years. Such, Sir, are the wishes of my 
heart for you and for your wife, whom I pray to 
believe me to be her very humble servant. 
Always your very 

humble and affectionate servant. 

LXX. 

To the Countess de Toulonjon. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1627. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

May God in His infinite goodness recompense 
you by an abundance of spiritual and temporal 
blessings for the loss you have sustained in the death 
of a son,* tidings of which have reached me. I 
know that you will have received this visitation of 
God with a patient and loving submission to His 
good pleasure, for in this valley of tears we must 
expect many afflictions and but few consolations. 
Keep lifting up your thoughts to Eternal Life, where 
alone is to be found true repose. Into it cast all 
your heart and all your hopes, and teach the little 
one (Gabriellef) this lesson while she is still young. 

* Madame de Toulonjon unhappily lost several of her 
children at birth. 

f Gabrielle de Toulonjon married her cousin, de Bussy 
Rabutin, of unenviable celebrity. Needless to say, the 
union was not for her a happy one. 



170 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

LXXI. 

To the Same. 

Vive *%< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1627. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

May the sweet Saviour fill you and all those 
dear to you with His holy love. I do not know 
whether you have received my last letter in answer 
to your confidential one. I am looking out for good 
news. The tender love I bear you cannot but make 
me a little anxious. However, I trust that God in 
His love will support you and bring you safely 
through. Now that a satisfactory peace* is, thank 
God, concluded, I hope to have the consolation of 
seeing you this year. Nevertheless, dearest daughter, 
do not let yourself be taken up too much with 
this hope, so that if divine Providence should 
put obstacles in the way you may not be greatly 
upset ; for beyond everything I want you to love His 
holy guidance, and He is so good that He always 
arranges what is best for His children, one of whom 
you most assuredly are. How I long to impress upon 
you this truth, that nothing can happen except by 
the order and disposition of the Eternal Will. I 
salute dear Gabrielle. 

Ever your Mother, etc. 

* A temporary peace made, during the Thirty Years 
War, with the Huguenots in May, 1626, and called the 
Peace of Monzon. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 171 

LXXII. 

To Mother Marie- Adrienne Picket, Superior at 
Rumilly. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1627. 
[The first lines are illegible.] 

As to your temptations, divert your mind from 
them, and in this do violence to yourself, but let it be 
a gentle violence, and yet taking good hold. This 
firmness tempered with mildness is, my daughter, 
the course for you. God has hidden the prize of 
eternal glory in the conquest and mortification of 
ourselves, but a conquest and a mortification that 
are always accompanied with sweetness; otherwise, 
with your quick nature you will be the cause of 
suffering not only to yourself but likewise to others. 
Hence, gentleness is an important factor in govern 
ment, and when allied to generosity, I daily see how 
much souls are helped and supported by it. You 
are aware of the very special love which I have for 
your soul, and your house is to me as one of our own 
dormitories here. They speak of your monastery 
as being unfortunate, and ask how it is that it is so 
afflicted. Such affliction should not be spoken of 
as a misfortune, as it is the means of bringing glory 
to God; for not one of your Sisters has died whose 
soul is not giving Him praise in Heaven. This is, 
dearest daughter, the language of the world. That 



172 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

of God is quite otherwise: for whenever a house is 
visited by such tribulation as does not offend Him 
it is a great mark of His benediction upon that 
community. Now continue to be on your guard 
lest there be any asperity in your corrections, for 
hardness is neither becoming nor fruitful. Those 
who have the charge of others are not usually able 
to say with St Paul: " I am innocent of your 
blood/ * meaning of the faults which these people 
commit. On the contrary most commonly we are 
guilty not only of our own faults but likewise of 
those of others. For either we are too severe, or too 
lenient; we have either corrected with harshness, 
not seasoning our words with the sugar of holy 
charity, or have neglected to correct at all. 

I have nothing more to say, dearest daughter, but 
that I forward the money for the new habit you have 
made for me, and I beseech you, on the first opportu 
nity, to send me back the old one which the sisters 
have kept. There is nothing upsets me more than 
these exterior manifestations of imaginary sanctity 
in me; they are simply snares that the devil lays to 
make me tumble into the pitfall of pride. I am 
already a sufficient stumbling-block to myself with 
out your adding to it. I implore of you, all of you, 
not to be the occasion to me of so dangerous a 
temptation, and if anyone has anything belonging 
to me they will oblige me by burning it. Would to 
* Acts 9 xx, 26, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 173 



God that my sisters treated me as I deserve before 
Him, then I should have some hope that by humilia 
tions I might become what they imagine me to be: 
but this providing me with continual temptations to 
vanity is a thing insupportable to me. I tell you 
this with sorrow in my heart and tears in my eyes. 
The good N. and N. are very happy in having so 
many exterior humiliations. I cherish them more 
on account of these, and believe them to be, in God s 
judgement, which is so different from that of men, 

all the greater because of them. 

Yours, etc. 

LXXIII. 

To Mother Anne Catherine de Beaumont, Superior of 
the First Monastery of Paris. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 
August i2th, 1627. 

How good it is, my dearest daughter, to rest in 
God and seek only His glory ! See how He has 
guided this election, which has been a great conso 
lation to me, and I have every hope that this dear 
Mother Helne Angelique (L huillier) will rule with 
such humility and gentleness that much glory will 
accrue to God, and the Sisters be consoled and 
satisfied. The Bishop of Geneva is very glad that 
things have turned out as they have done. When 
you are in the new house I think you will do well to 



174 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

send him word of your deposition and tell him of the 
nature of your new office. 

Our Blessed Father s process* is, thank God, 
progressing well. The Depositions are bringing to 
light treasures of virtue and sanctity : His incompara 
ble charity and profound humility shine conspicu 
ously throughout; but, for the matter of that, there 
is no virtue that does not shine in him, for he 
possessed all in a pre-eminent degree. Lord Jesus, 
what a glorious thing it is to be a saint ! May God 
make us worthy daughters of such a Father, and 
may we above all have the grace to imitate his 
humility and his poor opinion of himself ! Oh how 
happy we should be if we could love this lowliness 
and poverty so much prized by him. 

The Archbishop of Bourges will be here till 
October; but he will not be able to finish the busi 
ness. The Bishop of Belley will then take it up, 
for it is going to be a long affair. We start for 
Orleans (D.V.) at latest on the I5th of October. 

If Sister M. M. s mind is not in accord with that 
of her superior of Paris, and she is not satisfied, 
though it seems to me she ought to be, you would 
be doing a great charity to take her away with you. 
It is a misery to see poor souls like this who are not 
content with things as they are; however, they are 
objects of our charity and our f orebearance. Good 
bye, very dear daughter; I pray God to fill you and 
* Process of Beatification. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 175 



all our dear Sisters with His holy love. I salute all, 
but in particular Sister Assistant. Our Sister the 
Superior of Blois writes to tell me that their good 
foundress has died. Help to relieve them if you 
can in reference to the foundation.* They have 
confidence that you will do your best for them, and 
do it, I beg of you. 

LXXIV. 
To a Visitation Superior. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1627. 

Thank you, my dear daughter, for praying for my 
son. With his death, f most truly, came to me not a 

* This is to say, see that the sum promised by the 
foundress for the founding of a convent is forthcoming. 

f The death of the Baron de Chantal is related by a 
contemporary historian in the following terms: "Chantal 
was chosen to head the first squadron of Volunteers, which 
at this time comprised the whole flower of the Court, and 
finding himself under orders to defend the Isle of R6 against 
the English on July, 22nd, 1627, held his post with such 
tenacious courage during six hours, although he had 
received twenty-six pike wounds, of which he died two 
hours later, that the heroism of his death was the subject 
of universal praise, and all mourned him as his valour 
merited. He was thirty-one years of age. The end of this 
gallant gentleman was as Christian as it was self-sacrificing. 
On the morning of the combat he prepared himself by the 
reception of the Sacraments, and breathed his last in senti 
ments of the most sincere piety. The following day Toitas 
claimed his body from the English General, and it was then 
embalmed and buried in the Isle of R6, his heart having 



176 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

feeling of death so much as of life for the soul of my 
child, and God has given me a very clear light and a 
very tender gratitude for His mercy towards this 
soul. Alas ! not one of the fears that used to come 
upon me of his dying in one of those duels into which 
his friends enticed him but was harder to bear than 
has been this good and Christian death. And 
although it has deeply affected me, yet the consola 
tion in the thought that my son has given his blood 
for the Faith outweighs the sorrow. Besides, dear 
daughter, it is a long time now since I have given 
him and everything to Our Lord, by whose goodness 
I hope to obtain the grace no more to desire aught 
save to see Him dispose of all things to His liking in 
time and in eternity. 

LXXV. 

To Mother Jeanne Helene de Gtrard, Superior at 
Embrun. 

Vive >%4 Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 

i^th September, 1627. 
MY VERY DEAR MOTHER, 

I have just received your letter, and as we are 
on the point of starting for Orleans I can neither 
give my answer the attention the matter deserves, 

been sent to his sorrowing widow, who had it buried with 
honour in the church of the Minims in Paris, from whence 
it was afterwards removed to the Church of the Visitation 
Monastery, Rue St. Antoine." 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 177 

nor go into it as fully as may be necessary. But 
God with His wonted goodness will make up for my 
deficiencies. Those good subjects to whose admit 
tance your Archbishop objects muct not, of course, 
be received, and if the Fathers write to me in refer 
ence to them I will keep to his Lordship s commands. 

It is impossible for a superior to undertake to give 
all her orders at the Obedience* although it is well 
for her to think a little beforehand of what she intends 
to say at that time. The defect you mention is a 
mere trifle, but that of urging on spirits over much, 
although there is rarely sin, owing to your purity of 
intention, is, however, a matter of great importance : 
therefore, my dearest Sister, do, I beg of you, pro 
ceed gently in this holy work. 

Read with attention the writings of our holy 
Founder (St. Francis de Sales), and you will there see 
the extreme sweetness and suavity with which he led 
souls, and how marvellously they thus advanced. 
Follow his spirit closely, I pray you, animating 
all, encouraging all, yet always with gentleness. 
Commonly speaking, we have more strength for 
bearing up on great occasions than on small ones, 
so it is that being overcome by slight difficulties we 
get to know, through the grace of God, how weak 
we are, and in this way He keeps us humble and 

* Before the Sisters disperse at the morning and evening 
recreations they receive " Obediences " from the Superior 
as to any change of employment or any special devotions 
in the course of the day. 

12 



178 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

dependent on Him. These little attacks which give 
you heart-aches are nothing to an enlightened mind 
resolved to will only as God wills; and this, I know, 
is your own sole aim. 

Your sincerity in telling me this thought (that you 
are more enlightened than I am) has given me great 
pleasure. Such openness and simplicity of heart is 
the cream of virtue, which I desire for the daughters 
of the Visitation. May God increase it in you, 
together with the love of your own humiliation and 
holy liberty of mind. 

Keep to this way, very dear daughter, and God 
will, I trust, make you experience the wonders of His 
mercy. Abide, I pray you, between the arms of 
divine Providence and of holy Obedience, and let 
not your desires outstep these limits. 

Believe me, daughter, it is to God s glory that you 
finish your term of office. I mean your triennial 
term in the charge of which obedience has placed 
you. I have a thousand reasons, both for God s 
sake and for what is becoming in yourself, to show 
you that this is the Visitation spirit, but I have no 
leisure to write them. Give us the comfort of seeing 
you persevere generously. You have only eighteen 
months to get through. It will soon pass, and at 
the end of it you will have abundance of consolation 
for having satisfied the good pleasure of God who 
asks this of you. Before that time, please God you 
will confer and resolve together as to who is to be 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 179 



your successor, and also about the buildings in 
regard to which it would be well to have the opinion 
of the Archbishop so as to conform to it as much as 
possible. ... I want to say a few words to Sister 
Anne Marie (Bon) and then hasten to finish. 

Praying God abundantly to spread His holy 
benedictions upon you and all your dear family, I 
recommend myself with great earnestness to your 
prayers, that in this journey, and at all times, I may 
accomplish the holy will of God. I shall always 
answer your letters whenever I receive them, for 
God has given me a very sincere affection for you and 
for your little house, and my desire is to respond to 
the holy confidence you place in me with so much 
candour and fidelity. 

Adieu, dearest daughter. Believe me, with my 
whole heart, 

Your very humble sister and servant. 

LXXVI. 

To Sister Frangoise-Angelique de la Croix de Fesigney, 
Mistress of Novices at Riom.* 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ORLEANS, 1627. 
MY DEAREST LITTLE ONE, 

Your letter has given me much consolation, 
for in it I see somewhat more determination to 

* This Sister was a relative of St. Francis de Sales. St. 
Jane Frances, who never flattered, used to call her " the 
little Saint." 



180 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

follow the advice we have given you, which, for you, 
is the only suitable advice. Keep your heart on 
high and confide with holy joy, and no reserves, in 
the goodness of God. He has designed to make 
choice of you for His service in the Monastery in 
which He has placed you : where no doubt there are 
others more capable than you, but that does not 
signify in God s eyes. It is humility, not capacity, 
He looks for. The most humble and the most 
faithful to His divine will contents Him most, and 
this is, I know, the way in which you are determined 
to serve Him. Live where you now are as you used 
to live at Nessy, growing in perfection by persever 
ance in the practice of virtue. This is all I ask of 
you. And if you give way now and again, be not 
cast down by such falls, but for love of God rise 
again with courage. It will give me great pleasure 
if you try to suppress childish ways. I wish I 
could make you see this. Should you, however, 
fall into them sometimes, do not worry. In a word, 
dearest little one, guide your novices boldly according 
to the teaching of the Directory and you will see how 
God will bless your care of them. For my part I 
feel sure He wishes to use you for the well-being of 
your monastery, for, as you know, all depends on 
the novitiate. 

I never thought much of good Sister Madeleine 
Let her not think that I believe in her revelations. 
Most assuredly God does not give such to souls who 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 181 

are so full of imperfections. She can tell untruths 
about what I said to her just as she does about other 
things. Try, however, to gain her and give poor 
Sister, the Superior, all the comfort you can. I 
write in haste. I should like to write often, but I 
cannot. However, we shall meet again, please God. 
My daughter, my dearest little one, be henceforth, I 
repeat, joyous and generous in the service of the 
good God. Ask Him always how you should speak 
and act, and be assured that in everything for your 
good and for that of your dear novices He Himself 
will act and speak through you. I salute most 
affectionately the novices whom I dearly love, and 
all our Sisters. May God put Sister N. in the right 
way. 

Adieu, daughter. 

LXXVII. 

To St. Vincent de Paul.* 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 
December, 1627. 

Now that you are working in the Province of 
Lyons, my very dear Father, we shall have no 
opportunity of seeing you for a long time, yet it is 

* The reciprocal affection and veneration of St. Vincent 
de Paul and St. Francis de Sales is well known. Both 
trained in the school of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the one 
the apostle of Charity, the other of Gentleness, these two 
souls bore so striking a resemblance to one another that 
when, upon the death of St. Francis, St. Chantal placed 



1&2 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

not for us to gainsay what God arranges. May He 
be blessed in all things. But, very dear Father, I 
am taking advantage of the liberty which in your 
charity you have given me to continue importuning 
you with my confidence, and I do so in all simplicity. 
I gave four days to the Exercises (Retreat), and 
no more, on account of the amount of business that 
has come unexpectedly upon me. During those 
days I realized how much I need to labour at acquir 
ing humility and at bearing with my neighbour. I 
have been trying to acquire these virtues during the 
past year, and with Our Lord s help have practised 
them somewhat. But it is His doing, not mine, and 
if it please Him I will so continue as He gives me 
many opportunities for the practice of them. For 
my part it seems to me that I am in a simple state 
of waiting on the good pleasure of God to do what 
ever He wills with me. I have no desires, no plans; 
I hold to nothing, and very willingly leave myself in 
His hands; still, I do this without sensible devotion, 
but I think it is all right at the bottom of my heart. 
I just do at the present moment what seems to me 
necessary without thinking any further, or planning 
for the future. The whole inferior part of my being 



herself under the guidance of St. Vincent de Paul, she is 
said to have felt that she had made no change in her spiritual 
direction. Of her intimate correspondence with St. 
Vincent, which continued until her death, there remains, 
unfortunately, but a mere fragment. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 183 

is frequently in revolt, and this causes me much 
distress. I can but bear with it, knowing that 
through patience I shall possess my soul. More 
over, I have an ever increasing weariness of my 
charge, for I cannot endure the labour it entails, and 
I am obliged to force myself to do the necessary 
work which is wearisome to both mind and body. No 
matter how I am occupied, my imagination gives 
me a good deal of trouble, and it all makes me sick 
at heart. Our Lord permits me besides to have 
many exterior difficulties, so that nothing in life 
gives me pleasure save only the will of God who 
wills them. I beseech you to implore Him to have 
mercy on me, and I shall never fail to pray Him with 
all my heart to give you the strength you need for 
the charge that He has entrusted to you. 

LXXVIII. 

To the Countess de Toulonjon. 

Vive *%< Jesus ! 

PARIS, 
loth of May, 1628. 

MY GOOD, DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

May God be your eternal joy and consolation ! 
The Bishop of Chalons has written to tell me what 
a comfort it has been to him to have had you near 
him for a little while, and his only regret is that you 
could not have stayed longer. He is most kind- 
hearted. 



184 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

M. Coulon, at the request of M. de Coulanges, has 
brought me all the contracts, in order to let me see 
just how things have been, which indeed I knew 
already, and an account of which I have given in a 
memorandum to M. de Bussy for you, so that M. de 
Saint-Satur may make up his mind either to re 
linquish his claim or to make it good: for M. de 
Coulanges wishes to hear our side of the matter 
before putting my son s property in order. This is, 
dearest daughter, my reason for begging of you to 
settle how you intend to act, for if this business is 
dragged on, the property will be spent to the ruin 
of the little de Chantal child. I hope Our Lord in 
His goodness will let us see clearly the truth, and 
that seeing it we may preserve that blessed peace 
and harmony which is more precious in families than 
all the goods of the world. M. Coulon will have told 
you how greatly M. de Coulanges and my daughter 
de Chantal desire that this union amongst us should 
be maintained, and that things should be arranged 
amicably and without delay ; of this I can assure 
you, dearest daughter, so pray think the matter 
over; for to tell me that you will give it all up if I 
so desire is not the point at all. If you have a just 
claim I have no wish that it should not be satisfied, 
this being only reasonable; but if you have none, 
which I think is the case, and that the title-deeds 
show it as plain as day, I would wish you to put in 
no claim, so that the affairs of this poor little child 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CtiANTAL 185 

may be arranged in peace. Should God take her to 
Himself you will then have wherewith to be satisfied. 
While awaiting the great comfort of seeing you, 
you ought, I think, to act conclusively in the 
matter. 

Praying God to spread in abundance His holiest 
blessings upon you and upon our poor child, I 
remain, very dear daughter, notwithstanding all 
surmises to the contrary, in very truth and with 
my whole heart your Mother, who has for you 
that incomparable maternal love which God has 
given me and which by His grace will never grow 
less. 

I salute M. de Saint-Satur, whose most humble 
servant I am. 

Good-bye, my dearest daughter. 



LXXIX. 

Extract from a letter to Mother Favre. 

Writing from Bourges, 1628, to Mother Favre, 
who had just been elected Superior of the Second 
Monastery of Paris, St Chantal says: " Your good 
Father (St. Vincent de Paul), for whom I feel so 
much reverence and affection, thanks me for the 
gift we have given him of you. This is, I think, to 
forstall your being taken away. I shall see to it 
with the Bishop of Geneva and with you yourself. 



i86 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

What a rogue you are ! But all the more are you 
my truly loved daughter, for whom I have an in 
comparable affection. I send my salutations to 
whoever you wish. God be blessed !" 



LXXX. 

To Sister Anne Marguerite Clement at Orleans. 

Vive >J Jesus ! 

DIJON, 1628. 

Yes, indeed, my dearest daughter, God should 
be all in all to you. The one cherished good of 
the soul is to be alone with her God. Remain in 
this state of simple detachment, loving and obeying 
Our Lord in the person of your Superior and follow 
ing blindly her guidance and her commands. I 
know full well that you have given me your heart 
and that God has lodged it in mine, and this is why 
I hope nothing may ever take it thence. Through 
His grace we have been trained in the same spirit 
and vocation in this world; may we continue 
together to love and praise the supreme Beloved of 
our souls for all eternity. Since God has deprived 
you of the power to use the intellectual faculties of 
your soul, do not attempt to do so, but acquiesce in 
His good pleasure. Be as a child in the arms of its 
nurse, letting God do just as He likes with you 
through holy obedience, and try little by little to 
forget self. I do not think there is any other means 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 187 

of securing stable peace of soul than the giving one 
self up absolutely, in order to be led and directed by 

obedience. 

Yours, etc. 

LXXXI. 

To Mother Catherine-Charlotte de Cremaux, de la 
Grange. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1629. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

The good gentleman* who is making your 
foundation at Condrieu manifests a great regard for 
it and much piety, courtesy, and humility in the 
articles of his foundation which I have seen. Indeed 
it is but reasonable to do all you can to please him. 
However, in regard to this first proposition of naming 
those whom he wishes to be received without a 
dowry, you must if possible arrange that the Sisters 
have the liberty to choose the subjects, lest those 
he names may not be suitable. This is an important 
point for the preservation of peace in our Institute, 
as usually those who present subjects have such a 
strong desire to see them received that, if they prove 
to have no vocations, the Sisters by sending them 
away make for themselves enemies instead of 

* This foundation was made from Lyons by M. de Villars, 
whose brother, Mgr. de Villars, Archbishop of Vienne, 
presided at the installation of the Sisters at Condrieu, 
January ist, 1630. 



i88 DELECTED LETTERS OF 



friends: so have a clear agreement on this point. 
It is quite necessary, in order not to be constrained 
to take those who are found to be unsuitable. 
The Book of Customs will afford light on this 
matter. . . . 

As to the Fourth Article, the instruction of young 
girls. To take boarders is contrary to the spirit of 
our Institute. Our Blessed Father never approved 
of it. I do not know if you will find amongst his 
letters one which he wrote to a superior who had 
been approached on this subject by her Bishop. 
The Book of Customs permits indeed that three 
young girls, but not more, between the ages of ten 
and twelve, whose parents destine them for the 
Religious life, should be instructed and trained for 
it. If therefore one could manage to give satisfac 
tion by arranging such instructions as they desire 
in the parlour to young girls, and to some friends, 
that could be done on feast-days, and on one day in 
the week besides, but to act otherwise would be 
contrary to the Institute. Such is my humble 
opinion, since you desire to have it.* We received 

* The Little Sisters, of whom St. Jane Frances herself 
deemed it sometimes necessary to increase the numbers, 
have long since been superseded by small secular schools. 
The needs of the times, and the solicitations of the Bishops, 
under direct obedience to whom St. Francis wished his 
daughters always to remain, impelled the Mother Superiors 
of various monasteries, including that of Annecy, to deviate 
from the original design of the founders in so far as to open 
schools. But where this departure from the original Rule 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 189 

your letters yesterday, and will answer them as 
soon as we can, but the bearer only gave us time to 
open them. We shall have the answers ready to 
send you on the first opportunity that presents 
itself. 

LXXXII. 

To M. Poiton,* at Chambery. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
Feb. 2nd, 1630. 

MY GOOD AND VERY DEAR BROTHER, 

I have already thanked God for your safe 
return, and when writing to my Sister the Superior 
(of Chambery) sent you my good wishes. Now, 
while renewing them, I would like to tell you how 
very much I desire to see you and talk over some 
matters of interest with you, so I hope this poor 



is not found necessary, the houses continue to be purely 
contemplative. It is interesting to note that on the death 
bed of the Venerable Mother Chappuis, her daughters 
desiring to know her dying wish in reference to their own 
school, she said: " It neither interferes with the silence, 
the regularity, nor the solitude of the Sisters, and is neither 
against the Rule, nor against the spirit of the Institute." 
We are told that at Troyes, where this venerable 
servant of God died, the Community, apart from the few 
engaged in teaching, was absolutely ignorant of what 
passed in the school, knowing neither the names nor the 
numbers of the school-children. 
* The Convent lawyer. 



igo SELECTED LETTERS OF 

town will soon be restored to entire liberty.* Mean 
while, dear brother, you will, with your usual kind 
ness, take steps to accelerate the lawsuit against M. 
de la Ravoir, and this I very strongly recommend 
to you, as I am greatly astonished to see such apathy 
about an affair, that is so clear. It is now two 
years, or at least a year and a half, since the suit 
was begun, and it is of great importance to all our 
monasteries in Savoy. As to us here, if the judg 
ment is not in our favour it will later entail a number 
of legal proceedings and annoyances, for many are 
awaiting the result of this case to go to law with us 
themselves. M. Fichet, who is at Chambery, has 
already done so, and hopes to deprive us of the 
dowry of his sister, who died here after a year and a 
day of profession. The ground upon which he 
bases his claim is, that, notwithstanding her profes 
sion, she made a will leaving everything to this 
monastery. You see, dear brother, how much the 
peace or trouble of our houses of Savoy, in regard 
to the Sisters dowries, depends on the issue of M . 
Ravoir s case. If you can still procure legal approval 
of our exemption from the tax upon salt all our 

* In the spring of this year (1630) the invading armies 
of Louis XIII. reached Annecy. The little town bravely 
but ineffectually resisted. On capitulation one of the 
clauses it stipulated, and which was granted by the Com_ 
mander-in-Chief of the French Army, was that the body 
of the venerable Francis de Sales should never be removed 
nor taken out of Annecy. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 191 

houses will be under fresh obligations to you, and, 
besides, you will be helping towards our Sisters 
buildings while awaiting the time when you can 
help us to build our church. 

Pray convey my remembrances to the Commander 
Baldain. I never write to him because letters only 
worry him, and, besides, I am myself so over 
whelmed with letters and business, owing to the 
number of our monasteries that correspond with 
this one, that I am hardly able to get through it all. 
From day to day we are expecting the removal of 
the restrictions on this town, after which we shall 
converse with leisure, fully and freely. I beseech 
Our Lord to shed upon you His choicest blessings. 
Recommending myself to your good prayers, believe 
me with the same affection that I always have for you, 

Yours, etc. 

LXXXIII. 

To Dom Galice, Barnabite Father at Montargis. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
MY REV. FATHER, February, 1630. 

May the love of our Divine Saviour be the 
life of your soul. . . . 

I am very incompetent to give a useful answer to 
your letter in reference to my Sister the Superior of 
Montargis:* I beg of Our Lord to enlighten me that 
* Mother Anne Marguerite Clement. 



IQ2 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

what I say may be in accordance with His good 
pleasure. In the spiritual life of this Sister I have 
always seen many traits of special communication 
from God. Her humility is genuine, her charity 
towards her neighbour practical, her manner of 
treating with her Superiors straight and simple, 
and she has a real love of mortification, and of the 
practice of virtue. These are solid dispositions and 
such as are usually favoured by God. He has, I see, 
given your Reverence so clear and discerning a light 
in regard to the workings of grace in this soul and so 
much wisdom and counsel in guiding her that we 
can but look on with silent admiration. All I have 
to say is that I have never seen anything clearer, 
more simple, humble, and artless, than the terms, in 
which, with such lucidity, she manifests the opera 
tions of God in her, and the activities of her own 
soul. To me it is impossible to believe that she is 
moved by any other than the Spirit of God. It is 
said that we know the tree by its fruit, and as her 
tree brings forth the fruit of solid virtue there is 
nothing, I think, to fear. With your approval, my 
very dear Father, I venture to say that the suitable 
accompaniment to such great favours is interior 
recollection and self-humiliation. She writes to me 
somewhat fully of her feelings. I reply briefly, but, 
as I think, sufficiently. Let her pay little attention 
to what passes in her, and fix the eyes of her mind on 
the^unity and simplicity of the presence of God, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 193 

leaving it to do its own work. As to communion, 
your Reverence will allow it to her as your prudence 
and discretion dictate. I am told that the Bishop 
of Sens is a man of a very interior spirit and of great 
piety. If he visits this convent it would be well, 
I have been thinking, subject to your approval, to 
let him know what passes in this dear soul: this 
would give us much light, or at any rate it would 
give us confidence. I am quite of your opinion that 
it would be well for her to write what passes within 
her. 

LXXXIV. 
To the Same. 

Vive >$4 J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 
MY REV. FATHER, August, 1630. 

My dear Sister, the Superior, is very happy 
to be privileged to receive so many graces in such a 
spirit of deep humility and detachment. This is 
the touchstone by which to prove that they are from 
God, and which keeps in security the soul of the 
recipient. She serves truly a good Master; yet I am 
always of the same opinion that she ought not to be 
too much carried away by these affections for fear 
that in weakening the body they might unfit her for 
the duties of her charge. It would be well for her 
to restrain her emotions so as to keep them in the 
superior part of her soul and thus prevent an over- 



194 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

flow on the body : this is a safer way. To hear from 
time to time of what passes within her would, my 
very dear Father, be an immense consolation to me : 
say, for instance, towards the end of the year, or as 
your Reverence judges best. 

LXXXV. 

To Mother Anne Marguerite Clement, Superior at 
Montargis. 

Vive tfr J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 1631. 

1 am very well satisfied, my dearest daughter, 
with the favourable opinion of your Bishop as to 
your dealings with God. Blessed for ever be He 
who is so infinitely good as to deign to communicate 
Himself in such plenitude to His poor and un 
worthy creature. 

My daughter, there is nothing for me to say on 
this head. Do faithfully whatever your worthy 
Bishop desires you to do. You have only to look at 
God and to let Him work, completely forgetting 
yourself in Him. Since He in His love permits you 
to speak to Him so lovingly and familiarly I pray 
you, dearest daughter, present to Him sometimes 
my miserable little heart, humbly beseeching Him to 
make it entirely His, to strip it of all that does not 
find favour in His sight, and to give it the grace to 
do and suffer all things whatsoever that His good 
pleasure wills. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 195 

Earnestly recommend to Him our poor little 
Congregation, that His spirit may reign therein, and 
commend me often to His most holy love. Do this 
so heartily that I may feel the effects in as full a 
measure as His adorable will permits. Give me 
always your sweet affection in that holy love. I 
have read the two pages of your letter regarding 
your interior state, upon which I say nothing, save 
to praise God for the graces and lights that He 
vouchsafes to you. It is not for the creature to use 
empty and insipid words when the Creator Himself 
deigns to speak. 

LXXXVI. 

To Sister Marie Denise Goubert, of the First Monastery 
of Lyons. 

Vive ^ J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 1631. 
MY DEAREST SISTER, 

I have read and re-read your letter, at the 
end of which you beg of me to tell you if you are 
deceiving yourself in the belief which you hold as 
strong as an article of faith (to begin with, it is a 
grave fault to believe one s imagination in the same 
way as one believes an article of faith) that your 
spirit is lost in God, as you describe it to be. Now 
I tell you plainly, with my wonted sincerity, that I 
believe you are deceiving yourself; for true lowli 
ness is not made up in the imagination, nor does it 



196 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

consist in having many affections and lights to 
discourse on such things as you do. When one sees 
such lights in a soul dead to self it gives great con 
solation. But, my daughter, your are very far 
from such happiness, for you are bristling with self- 
love. Try to acquire genuine humility, which 
consists in the death or the allaying of your passions, 
inclinations, sentiments: your presumption, vanity, 
and self-love; having achieved this you must labour 
constantly and perseveringly by a continual morti 
fication of your whole being. Begin by retrenching 
the vain flights of your imaginations and the activity 
of your understanding. I would wish you not to be 
so subtle in your questions. 

In a word, my daughter, you must become truly 
humble and really mortified, and then God will live 
and reign in you. Take the advice and follow the 
guidance of your good Mother, and God will bless 
you. That God may do so is my prayer to Him. 
I remain, in His holy love, 

Yours, etc. 
LXXXVII. 

To Dom Galice, Barnabite Father at Montargis. 

Vive >J J6sus ! 

ANNECY, 1632. 
VERY REV. FATHER, 

I most humbly thank you for the trouble you 
have taken in writing me so full an account of what 
it has pleased Our Lord in His goodness to operate 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 197 

in this privileged soul,* and of the favourable judge 
ment which the Archbishop of Sens and the Rev. 
Fathers de Condren and de Suffren have formed of 
her. I do not think that it would be advisable at 
present to seek further evidence, lest, as you say, 
the peace of her spirit might thereby be disturbed. 
As for me, knowing as I have done for a long time 
the true humility, simplicity, and sincerity of this 
soul, it seems to me almost impossible to doubt that 
what passes in her is from God. From her infancy, 
preventing graces have been evident in her graces 
quite exceptional in one of her age ; and when received 
into this house she, from the very first, manifested 
in all her actions the true virtues of religion, and as 
she can herself tell your Reverence, God led her by 
very rare lights and sentiments of devotion to seek 
Him alone. I see by her letter to me that she does 
not wish to remain inactive, and this comes from the 
ardent desire that she has to please God. But I think, 
my Rev. Father, that all she has to do is to leave 
herself in Our Lord s hands, simply regarding Him 
without the distraction of any other thought. God 
will give you the light requisite for the guidance of 
this holy soul, since He has placed her under your 
care and direction. Indeed she is fortunate in 
having met your Reverence, who takes such a 
paternal interest in her, and there is good reason to 
praise God. The divine Goodness will recompense 
* Mother Anne Marguerite Clement. 



198 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

you abundantly, besides which I believe, very Rev. 
Father, that this charge is light and comforting to 
you. Do not forget to remember in the Holy 
Sacrifice her who desires for you the most pure love 

of our Lord, and who is truly, 

Yours, etc. 



LXXXVIII. 

To Sister Marie Aimee de Morville, .at Moulins. 

Vive >%4 Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1632. 

I have just come from holy communion, my 
dearest daughter, at which I blessed and thanked 
the God of infinite goodness for the loud call with 
which He has been pleased to bid you turn back to 
Him, and I besought Him with all the energy of my 
soul to keep so firm a hold upon you that nothing 
ever again may draw you away. For this I hope, 
dearest daughter, through His grace and your faith 
ful co-operation. I cannot but think that your 
heart is too good ever to forget His superabundant 
mercies to you. Ponder often on that counsel given 
by both the Princes of the Apostles; Labour in fear 
and trembling by good works to make sure your 
vocation.* Your past miserable experience ought 

* " Labour the more that by good works you may make 
sure your calling and election." 2 Pet. i. 10. 

" With fear and trembling work your own salvation." 
Phil. ji. 12, 



T. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 199 

surely to make you tremble, and fearful of again 
falling, and very watchful in avoiding all occasions 
of temptation, especially those which you know to be 
most prejudicial, such as conversations, intimacies, 
affections, and communications with the outside 
world, and even with spiritual persons unless rarely 
and from true necessity. Then will it be your 
delight to find contentment in the instructions you 
will receive from the good Mother (Marie Angelique 
de Bigny), who has a singular love for you, and is 
besides both capable and full of charity. Her tears, 
fasts, austerities, and prayers so frequently offered 
to God on your behalf will, I doubt not, have touched 
His heart, and helped to achieve your conversion. 
To her will be given without fail every help requisite 
for your happiness, and by means of her will His 
Goodness lead you in the straight path. I have a 
strong belief that those who submit not themselves 
to the guidance of their Superiors submit not to 
God. In a word, apply yourself to do rather than 
to learn; this is my wish for you. We have in 
abundance holy and solid instructions in the Insti 
tute. For none better could we wish, and none are 
better adapted to lead us to the great perfection 
that our vocation demands. May the study and 
the practice of them henceforth be your delight. 
To this I conjure you so that by means of them you 
may offer to the divine Goodness fruits worthy of 
His mercy and to the Institute the perfume of a 

\ 



200 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



holy and sincere conversion. Thus will be assuaged 
the sorrow and shame that by your past disorders 
you have made it suffer, and all our hearts will be 
filled with consolation. So much do I feel consoled 
by the generous acts you have made* that my 
displeasure at the past is all gone, and I assure you 
you are now within my heart, where I cherish you 
most truly and affectionately, and believe me 

* In the early part of the summer of this year, 1632, 
says the Mother de Chaugy, " it pleased God to open the 
eyes of the Benefactress of our monastery of Moulins by 
means of a dream. One night she dreamt that she saw a 
torch suddenly extinguished by someone at the moment it 
seemed to be trying to give forth more light. Taking this 
as a divine warning that her life would, when she least 
expected it, be thus suddenly extinguished, it evoked a keen 
remorse for her past conduct. She sought her Superior, 
and with every mark of genuine sorrow begged, for God s 
sake, to be permitted once more to enter the novitiate, of 
which petition the good Mother warmly approved. Sister 
Marie Aimee, now desiring to make public reparation for the 
scandal she had given, asked to do so at the open grille. 
This was allowed, and having there renewed her profession, 
she tore up the document containing the list of privileges 
which had been granted to her as Benefactress and Co- 
foundress with Madame de Gouffier. At the same time she 
begged to be allowed the favour of living as a simple 
religious, while confessing herself unworthy of such a grace. 
From this time she became the consolation and the edifi 
cation of all her Sisters, an example of fidelity to the holy 
Rule, and for fifteen months her obedience, mortification, 
and piety were all that could be desired. At the end of 
that time the dream which had wrought her conversion was 
verified. She was taken suddenly ill, and had only time, 
before passing from this life, to implore the mercy of Him 
who came to save the repentant sinner." 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 201 

you will receive from all of the Institute and from 
me nothing but proofs of love and affection. 

I think it would be well some months hence, when 
you have given yourself time to test your perse 
verance, that you should give testimony of it to the 
houses of the Institute by some humbly written 
note, to make satisfaction for your past misconduct. 
You have done well, dearest daughter, in giving 
yourself unreservedly to God. His Providence will 
not fail you nor permit you to be in want of anything. 
If the good sister who used to serve you is worthy 
of the favour you desire for her, most willingly can 
it be granted, but not till she has proved her perse 
verance in well-doing for some years. I pray God 
to shed abundantly upon you the- assistance of His 
grace. 

LXXXIX. 

To M. de Coysia, Counsellor to the Royal Senate 
of Savoy. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
igth March, 1633. 

Alas ! Sir, what is this that I have just heard ? 
That you are arrested and charged with fresh 
accusations ! Our good God, in permitting so much 
affliction, can have no other design than by it to 
make you conformable to His beloved Son our most 
gentle Redeemer. If you shut your eyes to the 



202 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

things of earth and open them to eternal truths this 
tribulation, accepted with loving and patient sub 
mission, will, in the end, work a weight of glory and 
bring you solid peace. One single spark of this true 
honour is worth more, a million times, than all the 
prosperity that the world could offer, which, as you 
know, Sir, is all deceit and illusion. Ponder well 
over the accusations with which the most holy Son 
of the Eternal Father was charged, the pains that 
He suffered, followed as they were by a terrible and 
ignominious death. You are not more innocent 
than He. And all this He suffered for you, for me, 
for all ungrateful men, because it was the good 
pleasure of His Eternal Father, with a love, patience, 
and humility incomprehensible to us. So do you, 
Sir, seek to imitate this portion of His Passion. 
Lovingly embrace His will. Resign yourself abso 
lutely to it. Place yourself and all your affairs in 
His hands, so that He may dispose of all according 
to His good pleasure. . . . 

I need not assure you of our prayers: both affec 
tion and duty claim them. May Our Lord be the 
joy and consolation of Madame, my most dear sister, 
and of yourself. 

Always sincerely your very humble servant. 

Feast of the glorious Saint Joseph, to whom I 
recommend you with all my heart. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 203 



XC. 
To the Countess de Toulonjon, at Pignerol. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1633. 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

I hear that God is about to give you again 
the blessing of motherhood, and I like to console 
myself with the hope that you thank Him for this 
grace and for all the prosperity you enjoy, taking all 
from His hand who sends you these good things, 
not to be employed in pomp and vain display, but to 
make you advance in holy humility and loving fear 
of Him. Tell me, daughter, and tell me quite 
honestly and frankly, what are your sentiments upon 
this point ? for I always have a certain dread that 
the atmosphere of this world s affluence and honours 
may smother us if we do not keep well before our 
minds the thought of their instability, the certainty 
that we must one day leave them, and the uncertainty 
of the coming of that day. Think often of death 
and of the blessed eternity those will enjoy who 
value true happiness above all perishable things. 
Impress these truths on your daughter, for they are 
the best and most permanent heritage that you can 
give her. Make her dearly prize the happiness of 
living in the holy love of God, and in the fear of 



204 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

offending Him. These things, as you know, I have 
always, from your tenderest years, striven to 
engrave on your heart, and especially did I advise 
you to fulfil all your duties towards your husband, 
as God ordains. This advice I now reiterate. You 
should give him all the satisfaction in your power. 
Tell me also your thoughts on this point. Ah ! for 
the love of God, daughter, let not your head be 
turned by the honours and good things which you 
have in such abundance. I am told that you have 
become sarcastic. Believe me, dearest daughter, it 
is by Christian modesty and a gentle and gracious 
manner to all that you ought to make yourself 
known. Turning others into ridicule is not becom 
ing in one of your position and age. Try to conquer 
and attract hearts by the means I have just pointed 
out, and to surpass all in prudence and holy reticence 
of action. Take this advice from your mother, who 
loves you and desires to see you altogether perfect 
in your station. May God give you the grace to 
be so ! 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 205 



XCL 

To Mgr. Andre Fremyot, formerly Archbishop of 
Bourges (the Saint s brother). 

ON THE DEATH OF HER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, 
MME. DE CHANTAL.* 

Vive >J< Jesus! 

ANNECY, 1633. 
MY VERY HONOURED LORD, 

We have but to adore with profound sub 
mission the will of our good God, and lovingly to 
kiss the rod with which He chastises His elect. Yes, 
indeed, notwithstanding all the repugnance of 
nature, I praise and thank Him a thousand times, 
because He is our good God, who sends us with the 
same love joys and sorrows, and even for the most 
part causes greater profit to come to us through 
affliction than through prosperity. Yet is it not 
strange that knowing and experiencing this we 
should feel so keenly as we do the death of those we 
love ? for I own to you that upon opening the little 
note that announced the death of my poor dear 
daughter I was so overcome that had I been stand 
ing I think I should have fallen. I never remember 
any previous sorrow to have had the effect of this 

* The young Baroness de Chantal died August 2oth, 
1633, and was buried in the vault at the Visitation Monastery, 
Rue St. Antoine. 



206 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

note upon me. O ! my Jesus ! What a climax of 
grief it has been to my poor feeble heart and how 
your trouble has added to mine ! It is most natural 
that you should feel it as you do, and at your age 
too; what a sweetness and support you have lost in 
this daughter who so lovingly looked after your 
health and every want of yours. All this makes me 
suffer more than I can say, for whatever touches 
you touches me acutely. But when I reflect that 
by means of these privations, lovingly accepted, our 
good God wishes to be Himself everything to us, 
and that the least advance we make in His love is 
worth more than all the world with all its joys, and 
that in those sharp trials which deprive us of our 
sweetest pleasure He prizes above all the union of 
our will with His truly, I say, when I consider 
these things, I find myself impelled to acknowledge 
that the more sorrows that come upon one the more 
is one favoured by God. I hope that before now 
you will yourself have received this light and found 
comfort in it. First emotions [of grief], my beloved 
and dearest Lord, are inevitable, and our sweet 
Saviour is not offended by them. But I trust that 
after them He will abundantly fill you with con 
solations; this I pray for unceasingly. Distract 
yourself as much as you can and let the confident 
hope that we shall be united in a blessed eternity 
fortify you. The virtuous life and holy death of 
our dearly loved daughter gives strong hope that in 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 207 

God s mercy she is already in this enjoyment. We 
are after all here only to prepare for future happi 
ness, and the sooner we possess it the happier 
for us. 

1 am writing to M. and Mme. de Coulanges, to 
whom this terrible loss must have been a great blow. 
I believe they will take into their heart the poor 
little orphan* and always keep her there. Verily 
when my thoughts turn to her I have to hold them 
in. I trust that God, to whom I confide her, will 
be Father and Protector to her, and I give her 
up to the care of the Blessed Virgin with all my 
heart. 

Our Sisters of both Convents upon this occasion 
have forgotten nothing. Besides their own love for 
the dear deceased they also felt very much for your 
sorrow in her loss and for mine. There is some 
comfort in knowing that she is to be left, with the 
heart of my poor son, in the care of the Sisters. 
Your judge of Nantua told me the other day that 
you are at N. I was very glad, my dear Lord, to 
hear it, as it will help to give you the distraction 

that you ought to seek. 

My Lord, 

Yours, etc. 
* Marie de Chantal, afterwards Mme. de Sevigne. 



208 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

XCII. 
To a blind Sister.* 

Vive tfr Jesus ! 

[Date not given.] 
MY VERY DEAR DAUGHTER, 

Your letter consoles me, for it tells me with 
what patience you have accepted your cross, and 
what profit, by your submission to the good pleasure 
of God, you are drawing from it. He, it may be, 
deprives you of the light of the body in order to make 
you more abundantly enjoy that of the spirit, and 
this is a great motive for blessing Him. As a saint 
once said to one who was blind and very holy : 
" There is nothing to be proud of in bodily sight; we 
have it in common with the beasts ; but we may well 
rejoice in God s having given us the interior light 
by which we see and know His goodness"." I am 
very glad that our good Sisters are so affectionately 
attentive in their care of you, as this gives you 
pleasure. I envy them in having the opportunity, 
for, I must tell you, what will perhaps console you. 
I have always set very little value on corporal sight, 
being of opinion that, except for the reading of good 
books and somebody s else s devotions, it is a hind 
rance rather than a help in the spiritual life, so it is 
almost more desirable to be without it than to enjoy 

* From " Sainte Chantal : Pensees et Lettres." P. Tequi, 
29, rue de Tournon, Paris. 1899. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 209 

it, as in its absence the interior sight remains firmer, 
more purified from external objects, and more 
solidly fixed on God. This is indeed the only thing, 
it seems to me, worth desiring. If, nevertheless, 
you feel inspired to ask your cure of God, do so, but 
always with your former resignation, and pray for 
her who is all, etc. 

XCIII. 

To Sister Bonne Marie de Haraucourt at Nancy * 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1633. 

God bless you, my dearest daughter, for the good 
news you send me of the convalescence of the good 
prelate. . . . 

* Sister Bonne Marie de Haraucourt, whose memory is 
venerated in the Visitation Order, spent her youth in the 
midst of the gaieties of the Court of Lorraine without ever 
reflecting that she had a Jesus to imitate or a heaven to 
gain. On terms of intimacy with the Duchess Nicloe, wife 
of Charles IV., this girl became intoxicated with the flattery 
by which she was surrounded because of her beauty and 
her wit, when of a sudden the same words that converted 
the great Arsenius, " Fuge, Tace, Quiesce,"* fell upon her 
ear. The arrival of St. Jane Frances in Lorraine at the 
moment (1626) was propitious, and the young Court 
favourite made no delay in answering the call. With 
mingled feelings of joy at the thought of the great sacrifice, 
and of dread of what it entailed, she offered herself to the 
Saint. Soon after the arrival of Mademoiselle de Harau 
court at the Visitation of Pont-a-Mousson, the flower of 
the younger ladies of the Court, captivated by her example, 



* Fly, be silent and be at peace. 



210 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

To return to yourself, whom I so dearly love. 
Repose in peace in your state of spiritual poverty. 
Blessed are the poor, for God will reclothe them. 
How happy should we be if our hearts were stript 
of all that is not God, and if we loved so to be. What 
a blessed thing it is to be in obscurity, with no 
devotion, no spiritual enlightenment, no consolation 
from creatures. Oh, my daughter, when a soul 
finds herself in this state, what can she do save hide 
herself like a little fledgeling, and nestle under the 
wing of her good mother Providence, remaining 
hidden there, not venturing to come out for fear the 
kite might capture her this, then, is your place of 

followed her there, where, regardless of the opinion of the 
world, they led a life hidden with God. After seven years 
of solitude and prayer, Sister Bonne Marie was sent to help 
Mother P. J. Favrot in the reform of the Penitentiary at 
Nancy, and she obtained leave to found there a Convent of 
her own Order, with the holy desire to perpetuate in this 
town, where she feared to have so much offended in the 
past, a homage of unceasing reparation. 

The Princes of Lorraine, and the Court, cherished and 
protected the new foundation, but soon after, the horrors 
of the Swedish war and the consequent departure of the 
Princess, left the little Community in a most pitiable state 
of destitution. Elected Superior at this critical time, Sister 
Bonne Marie, by the heroism of her faith, wrought wonders 
equal to those of great miracle-workers amongst the Saints. 
When no longer Superior, this holy Nun, by the force of her 
example, was the life and soul of her Convent at Nancy, as 
she had been the joy and support of Mother Favrot at 
Pont-a-Mousson. She died February 26th, 1666. 
Sainte, Vol. II). 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 211 

repose where there is naught to fear, and in what 
better place could you be ? And what richer 
clothing could you have than to be covered beneath 
the shelter of the sweet providence of your heavenly 
Father ? Dwell there, and be well content to possess 
this singular privilege. You know, my daughter, 
that you have a place in my heart from which no 

one can ever dislodge you. 

Yours, etc. 

XCIV. 

To Sister Paule Jeronyme de Monthoux, Sister 
Deposed,* at Blois. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1633. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Your letter by which I see that you are in the 
midst of suffering fills me with compassion. How 
ever, the Superiorf being such as she is, I do not 
think it desirable to remove you at present, for your 
absence would, I fear, make matters worse. 

You ought to follow faithfully the attraction you 
mention in your last letter of wishing to live in 
profound humility in order to imitate more perfectly 
the divine Saviour who was subject not only to His 
Father but to His children, to His creatures. As 
you know, they did not treat Him well, but with 

* In the Visitation Order the former Superior upon the 
election of her successor is called " Sister Deposed." 
f Mother Marie Michel Gervain was not re-elected. 



212 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

infinite contempt and opprobium, and all this 
suffering He bore without complaint. If, then, you 
have the courage to suffer in humility, sweetness, 
patience, silence, all that presents itself to you, I most 
truly believe that by so doing you will become holy, 
that your service will be agreeable to the divine 
Majesty, will work great good to the Institute, and 
in particular to your own house. 

These little things you mention to me, that the 
Mother does not wash the dishes, and does not 
sweep, I should take no notice of, except to bring 
them to her notice just once in a casual way and 
humbly. But when you remark important things, 
tell her of them with gentleness and affection, and 
try to win her heart, for if you once gain that you 
can do as you will with her. Neglect nothing that 
you think could further this end. With my pen as 
with my whole heart I beseech you to do all you 
possibly can to remedy this evil. You see how it is, 
beloved daughter; the older Sisters do not like to be 
the fault-finders. I gather this from their letters, 
and I see also that they fail in humility and respect 
towards the Mother. Certainly when a Sister, who 
ever she may be, is in charge as Mother, the same 
obedience and respect should be given to her as to 
her predecessor. To act otherwise is to prove that 
we have no virtue and that we do not, as is our duty, 
regard God in the creature. So should it be when 
she is in office. And when she is no longer Superior 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 213 

let us cherish her as a sister, and keeping ourselves 
in humility, meddle as little as possible with any 
thing. If it is requisite to admonish it ought to be 
done with such respect and charity that no harm 
can come of it. In a word, as you would wish that 
others should act towards you if you were Superior, 
so do you to them. I assure you, dearest daughter, 
it grieves me more than I can tell you when I know 
that the newly elected Mothers and the Sisters 
deposed are not in harmony; for it is clear as noon 
day that this comes from a want of humility. 
Wherever such a misfortune exists it is the ruin of 
peace and of the observance of the Rule, and that 
house is no longer held in good esteem. 

May God put His hand to this reformation. If 
I outlive my term of office I am resolved to keep 
myself so much in the background, and so ignorant 
of the affairs of the house that I can give umbrage 
to no one. Should I see wrong I shall certainly 
speak of it, but with all possible gentleness and 
humility, and having done so, if it is not put right 
I shall hold my tongue until the [Ecclesiastical] 
Superior s visit, then I shall simply represent the 
matter without exaggeration to him. To conclude, 
dearest daughter, do everything God suggests to you 
for the good of your Convent and for peace. Charity 
remedies all things. I am writing a long letter to the 
(Mother) Superior. Receive all I say as coming from 
a heart that only desires your good, and is entirely, 

Yours, etc 



214 SELECTED LETTERS OP 

xcv. 

To M. Noel Brulart, the Commander de Sillery.* 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

[Date not given.] 

Now see, my most dear Brother, how you have 
fallen into the state to which I always feared your 
great fervour would reduce you. And yet you say 
that you fear to flatter yourself and are not suffici 
ently on your guard against your own cowardliness. 
My true Father, for the love of God make no such 
reflections: for believe me all these little apprehen 
sions that you are not doing enough are not half so 

* Noel Brulart, Commander of the Order of St. John of 
Jerusalem (better known in the correspondence of St. Jane 
Frances as the Commander de Sillery), after a brilliant career 
at Court, where as Ambassador to the courts of Spain and 
Rome he displayed all the pride and splendour that his 
great revenues enabled him to gratify, fell under the influence 
of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Visitation Nuns, by whom 
he was excited to a higher ambition, and in 1632, in the 
fifty-fourth year of his age, giving up his worldly career, 
became a Priest and consecrated his wealth to relieving the 
unfortunate and furthering the interests of religion. A 
generous benefactor to the Visitation Order, amongst many 
other gifts he built the Church of the first monastery of 
Paris (designed by Mansard), where he was buried. It is 
now, alas ! the Protestant temple of the Rue St. Antoine, 
near the Bastille. Commander de Sillery closed a life of 
rare sanctity on the 26th Sep., 1640, in the sixty-third year 
of his age. The above letter is taken from the "Lettres 
de S e Jeanne Fran9oise Fremoit de Chantal." Tournei 
edition. J. Casterman, 1848. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 215 



pleasing to God as would be your submission in 
accepting the relief you require both for body and 
mind. God only wants your heart. Our useless- 
ness and powerlessness when lovingly accepted 
through reverence and devotion to His most holy 
will are more agreeable to Him than if we were 
perpetually doing violence to ourselves by great 
works of penance. Indeed, as you know, it is the 
height of perfection to w ill in regard to ourselves as 
God wills. And since He has given you a delicate 
constitution He wishes you to take care of it, so do 
not want to exact from it what He in His gentleness 
does not ask. A mild and tranquil inaction is what 
He requires of you, resting near Him, without paying 
any attention whatsoever either to the suggestions 
of your understanding or the movements of your 
will, unless it be to say some words of love, fidelity, 
and simple acquiescence offered gently and tranquilly 
without effort, and without desire to feel consolation 
or satisfaction in them. This practised with peace 
and repose of spirit will be very agreeable to God, 
more so, I think, than anything else you could do. 
Bear this state then, letting it take the place of the 
excessive application of mind which has reduced you 
to your present condition. Just one word more. 
Believe me, if instead of the four or five hours which 
you spend every day on your knees you would spend 
one hour that is a quarter of an hour after rising, 
another in preparation for holy Mass, the same in 



2i6 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



thanksgiving, and one short quarter for the evening 
examen that should be quite sufficient. Try for 
the love of God, by repose of body and mind, and by 
taking plenty of good nourishing food, to regain 
your former strength. If I did not feel it my duty 
to make this request I should not be writing to you 
so soon. And I trust through your goodness and all 
your fatherliness towards us that, for our consola 
tion, you will not overlook anything which you feel 
may help towards your recovery, or that you think 
will make you stronger in the future. I have not 
written to our charming and lovable dearest 
daughter, * because she does not know of your illness. 

A word to the good mother, who, though we 
write seldom to each other, I know to be so dear 
to you in Our Lord. 

I pray God in His mercy to preserve you for many 
years for the service of His glory and the happiness 

of our Congregation. Amen. 

I am, Sir, 

Yours, etc. 

XCVI. 

To the Countess de Toulonjon, at Alonne. 

Vive >|< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1634. 

I see by your letter that you are in great grief, 
and it touches me deeply. There is no doubt about 

* Presumably Mother Marie Jacqueline Favre. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 217 

it, your troubles are great, and viewed in this world s 
judgement they are of a very distressing nature. 
But look up, above these low and wretched passing 
things, to that blessed eternity in which is to be 
found great and endless consolation, and you will be 
glad that those for whom you mourn are in the 
happy possession of it, and a sweet peace will fill your 
heart amidst the vicissitudes of this mortal life. Ah ! 
when shall we give a little reflection to these truths 
of faith ? When shall we, dearest daughter, relish 
the sweetness of the divine will ? When shall we 
see in all that happens to us the good pleasure of 
God ? Whether He sends prosperity or adversity, 
He intends all equally for our greater good, and 
gives all with a love which to us is incomprehensible. 
But, miserable creatures that we are, we turn into 
poison the remedies meant for our cure. Let us not 
do this any more, rather let us lovingly submit like 
obedient children and co-operate with the designs 
of our heavenly Father, whose only aim in sending 
us affliction is to unite us more intimately to Him 
self. If we so act, He will be all to us, He will take 
the place of brother, son, husband, mother, of all 
things. Take courage from these strengthening 
thoughts. I pray Our Lord to give you a knowledge 
of the rich treasures which He, in His goodness, 
shuts up in the afflictions He sends us. 



2i8 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



XCVII. 

Extract from a letter to M. Noel Brulart, the 
Commander de Siller y, at Paris* 

Vive >fr Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1634. 

The state of your mind, which you narrate with so 
much simplicity, is incomparably better and safer 
than if you were overflowing with consolations and 
sensible love of God. This interior peace, this 
stability in God, these lights, which although slight, 
transient, and devoid of definite reasoning, yet 
retain the soul in the state in which God has placed 
her, are all infallible marks that He reigns in you, 
and give great hope that His goodness desires to 
lead you in a wholly intellectual way to a state of 
great purity and simplicity; hence you should, I 
think, my dearest brother, seek no other devotion 
than looking unto God purely and simply, and 
letting Him accomplish His will in you. This 
Divine Saviour being the only object of your affec 
tions and desires, the solitary pleasure of your heart, 
all that He will accomplish in you will be for His 
greater glory, and for your own sanctification. Be, 
then, as content to be powerless, idle, dry, and arid 

* Taken from the " Life of Noel Brulart de Sillery," 
Paris, at the Monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary, 
Rue d Enfer-Saint-Michel, 72. 1843. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 2X9 



before God, as if you were actively at work, and in 
the enjoyment of His gifts of devotion and content 
ment. As all consists in union with God one state 
ought to be as pleasing to you as another. Age and 
health no longer permitting you to be active, you 
will apparently have to spend the remainder of your 
days in this heavenly exercise by which your mind 
will be renewed. So will you be uninterruptedly 
employed in the love and repose of God, and I 
believe that the fruit which will result therefrom 
will enrich your soul, give glory to His divine 
Majesty, and even edification to your neighbour, for 
this salutary exercise teaches contempt of all earthly 
things, and is a great proof to the world of the true 
piety and happiness that are to be so completely 
found in God. 

XCVIII. 

To the Countess de Toulonjon. 

Vive t%4 Jesus ! 

1634. 

You wish, my very dear daughter, to have in 
writing my desires in your regard. Here they are.* 

* These counsels had been given verbally by St. Jane 
Frances to Madame de Toulonjon at the time of her sojourn 
at Annecy, where she came to pass the first months of her 
widowhood, and the Saint at the request of her daughter 
wrote them down for her so that she might be able often 
to read them over, and thus more faithfully adhere to her 
mother s pious recommendations. 



220 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

The strongest longing I have is that you should live 
as a true Christian widow, modest in dress, reserved 
in action, and above all in conversation. On this 
account you must avoid having to do with vain and 
worldly young men. If you do otherwise, my 
dearest daughter, although by the grace of God I 
hold your virtue to be unapproachable and feel 
surer of it than of my own, it might easily be sullied, 
and your conduct would surely be criticised when it 
became known that you receive such persons and 
take pleasure in their society. I beseech of you, 
trust me in this. Your honour and my own and my 
peace of mind are involved. I know well that there 
is no living in this world without some sharing in 
the pleasures it offers, but, believe me, you will never 
find stable enjoyment save in God, in virtue, and in a 
just and reasonable attention to the education of 
your children, to the management of their affairs, 
and to the care of your household. If you seek it 
elsewhere you will have a thousand tribulations of 
heart and mind. Well do I know this. I would 
not have you refuse the lawful pleasure that is to be 
found in the upright conversation of the virtuous 
and in their visits, although in the circumstances in 
which God has placed you it would be desirable to 
receive visitors but rarely. In a word, dearest child, 
for God s glory, for the love and reverence you owe 
to the memory of your dear husband, for the preserva 
tion of your good name, and the edification of your 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 221 

daughter, who, without doubt, models herself upon 
you, you must keep your inclinations a little in 
check, submitting them to God, to reason, to your 
own well-being and to that of your children. You 
must also bear in mind what is due and becoming 
to your birth and your condition and to the comfort 
of your neighbours. You will be greatly helped in 
this by faithfully following the little practices of 
devotion of which I have spoken to you, and which 
I will now again set down. 

Upon awakening in the morning, turn your 
thoughts to God present everywhere, and place your 
heart and your whole being in the hands of His 
goodness. Then think briefly on the good that it 
will be in your power to do that day, and the evil you 
should avoid, above all on that defect to which you 
are most subject, resolving by the grace of God to 
do good and avoid evil. Having risen from bed, 
kneel on your bed, or elsewhere, and adore God from 
the depths of your soul, thanking His goodness for 
all the graces and benefits that He has bestowed 
upon you, for a moment s reflection will show you 
how you are surrouded by His mercies and what 
a special care He has had of you. This thought 
ought indeed to touch your heart, which offer Him 
anew with your resolutions, affections, thoughts, 
words and works of that day, in union with that 
sacred offering which our divine Saviour made of 
Himself upon the tree of the cross, and ask Him for 



222 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



His holy grace and assistance to guide you through 
the day. Beg afterwards for His holy blessing with 
that of the Blessed Virgin, of your good angel and 
your holy patrons, saluting them by a simple inclina 
tion of the head and an interior act of reverence. 
All this can be done in the space of two Paters and 
Aves. Next, do not waste time over your toilette. 
As far as possible assist at holy Mass every day as 
attentively and devoutly as you can by using such 
holy considerations as are taught in Philothea.* If 
you cannot be present at Mass hear it spiritually 
as the same book teaches. Philothea ought to be 
your book of predilection and your spiritual guide. 
Either during holy Mass, if you cannot give other 
time, or at some other hour, withdraw a little into 
some quiet place every morning, and make about a 
quarter of an hour s prayer from your heart, placing 
yourself in God s presence, or at His sacred feet, or 
at those of the most holy Virgin, as a daughter before 
her father or her dear mother, and converse with the 
divine Majesty in humble, filial confidence. Do this 
either by reflecting on some mystery of Faith, or in 
accordance with some need you may have, or as 
your mind suggests. Conclude all by an act of 
great desire of loving and pleasing God, renewing 
your holy resolutions and invoking His grace. Let 
your chief care be to do everything with purity of 

* " The Introduction to a Devout Life," by St. Francis 
de Sales, Chapter XIV. of the second part. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 223 

intention, and often offer up your actions to God by 
holy affections, frequently calling to mind His good 
ness as He will suggest or your own heart will 
dictate. 

Read every day for a quarter or half an hour some 
spiritual book, preferably Philothea. Before supper, 
either walking about or retiring apart, place your 
self in the hands of God by some holy aspirations. 
Before going to bed examine your conscience and, 
prostrate before God, adore, thank, and invoke Him, 
offering Him your soul. If you are able, add the 
Litany of Our Lady, your attendants making the 
responses. Communicate at least on each first 
Sunday of the month and on the chief feasts, such 
as those of Our Lord, and our Lady, and the feast 
of St. Joseph, to whom I wish you to be devout. 

Try to subdue your passions and bring them and 
your inclinations under the law of reason and of the 
holy will of God: otherwise you will never have 
anything but trouble and uneasiness of soul. God 
permits or sends to His predestined children, for 
their good and as a means of bringing them to His 
glorious beatitude, the afflictions and contradictions 
of this life. My dearest daughter, if you are so 
happy as sweetly and patiently to accept all that 
He sends, then be assured you will begin to taste 
even here on earth something of the delights of the 
blessed eternity of glory. But for this you must 
serve God willingly and love Him supremely, seeking 



224 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

His pleasure, choosing His divine will through holy 
obedience in preference to your own will, desires, or 
inclinations. 

May God in His sweet goodness grant you this 
grace, dearest daughter; I unceasingly implore it of 
Him from my heart, which is that of one who loves 
you as her own with her entire capacity for loving. 
Amen. 

XCIX. 

To Sister Marie Aimee de Rabutin,* Mistress of 
Novices at Annecy. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

PARIS, 1635. 

DAUGHTER DEAR, 

You attribute everything to your negligence ! 
Accept the good that comes to you, and when God 
withdraws Himself do not run after Him. You are 
always doing His will provided you keep yourself 

* Marie Aimee de Rabutin possessed all the caustic wit 
for which the de Rabutins were distinguished, and had no 
other thought than of pleasure and of her independence, 
until St. Jane Frances won her to Christ. " Make haste, 
my daughter," she said to her, "for God is the enemy of 
delay." From the entrance of Mademoiselle de Rabutin 
into the Monastery of Annecy (1624) her fervour was with 
out bounds, and were it not for obedience her austerities 
would have shortened her life. When she was elected 
Superior at Thonon St. Jane Frances said to the outsister 
who came to fetch her : Make the most of the time your 
new Superior rules you, for you have never had and perhaps 
never will have her equal." She governed several monasteries 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 225 

under His hand without desiring anything whatso 
ever save to do His will. These doubts against 
Faith that you tell me of He permits so that you may 
make frequent acts of this virtue. For you see, my 
daughter, He only sends temptations to souls whom 
He intends to raise to high perfection. All the 
doubts and fears lest you may have consented come 
from the evil spirit. Pay no heed to them, unless 
to say, " Get thee behind me, Satan, for I am at 
peace in God." 

C. 

To M. Noel Brulart, Commander de Sillery, at 

Paris. 
Vive ^ Jesus ! 

VALENCE, 

2nd July, 1636. 

MY MOST HONOURED, BELOVED, AND DEAREST 

FATHER, 

I certainly have no wish to delay in answering 
your kind and cordial letter, which gives such a 
lucid account of the finale of this wicked affair*, and 

and died in 1678. Her praises are summed up in these 
words of St. Jane Frances: " When once Mother Marie 
Aiinee returns to Annecy she must not be taken away 
again, for although she is my relative, I cannot help saying 
that she has always been a living rule and a model of perfect 
observance." (Archives of the Visitation, Annecy.) 

* We quote the following extract from the " History of 
the Foundation of the Visitation Order " : 



226 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

above all of the good odour of those little servants 
of the Lord, our Sisters of the Faubourg, and of the 
reparation made to them. Oh ! how good God is ! 
and how prompt in coming by ways which confound 
the prudence of the worldly-wise to the succour of 
the innocent. For the greatness of His mercies may 
He be for ever blessed ! You must have been 
deeply moved in the goodness of your heart on 
witnessing such a marked and fatherly interposition 
of Providence in this grave crisis. Truly happy are 
the souls who repose entirely in the pitying and 
loving bosom of this heavenly Father. You cannot 
think what this grace has wrought in my heart 

" A person of good social position had, it is said, borrowed 
a very large sum of money from the Second monastery of 
the Visitation at Paris, promising immediately to send a 
written acknowledgement of this loan, and to repay it at 
the end of a fortnight. But upon receiving the money he 
at once absconded. Informed of his departure, Mother 
Marie Agnes Le Roy took active steps to recover the 
money, which was the entire capital of her community. 
The immediate result of her inquiries was that the affair 
became public, and the friends of the accused, who were 
very numerous, all took his part and spread the grossest 
calumnies against the victims of his treachery. But God 
taking charge of their defence providentially brought back 
to Paris the culprit, who thus fell into the hands of those 
who were seeking him. He made restitution, in so far as 
to acknowledge with confusion that he had taken the money, 
intending to speculate with it, but he appears to have been 
unable to restore to the Convent the entire sum." 

The Nuns claimed no other punishment for him than the 
avowal of his discreditable conduct. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 227 

towards God, whom we can never sufficiently thank 
for it, and towards you, my very dear Father, for 
the incomparable assistance which you have given 
these poor daughters of mine. It is quite impossible 
to express to you what I feel, and always shall feel, 
for the succour and the support in all our necessities 
which God has given us through you is a priceless 
treasure from which we draw both spiritual and 
temporal profit. May the sweet Saviour bless you 
with His richest graces and recompense you with 
His divine love. My poor Sisters needed this 
experience so that they might learn to trust them 
selves entirely to your paternal care. They have 
written to me expressing their gratitude and begging 
of me to help them to return you fitting thanks. It 
is a sweet Providence, I cannot but think, that has 
permitted the evil act of that miserable man, so 
that by means of it a more complete union should 
be established between our two monasteries (of 
Paris), and that Our Lord should have made use of 
you as the bond of union, for they themselves 
recognize this and write of it to me. God be blessed ! 
This story deserves to be recorded for posterity. 
But if it is possible I should be glad to know every 
circumstance of it in detail, for from certain things 
that have been written to me, it seems as if this man 
took the money to invest it for the benefit of our 
Sisters. I want to know the truth about this, and 
for what object it was confided to him. My Sister, 



228 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

the Superior of the Faubourg, tells me that on Sun 
day evening when I had said adieu to her, M. de 
Lamoignon took fifty-four thousand francs of it to 
buy an office for his son. I am asking Sister to write 
to me about this matter, for you must not trouble 
to do so . . . . 

We have visited our houses of Pont-Saint-Esprit, 
Avignon, Montpellier, Aries, Aix, and Marseilles, 
where certainly everything is blessed, and in all of 
which the observance is kept with great exactitude. 
It is most consoling to see on all sides how the 
Sisters love and esteem their vocation. All these 
houses have excellent Superiors. When at Aix we 
saw those of Digne, Draguignan, Grasse, and 
Forcalquier. The four are invaluable Mothers 
capable of putting their hands to anything in which 
divine Providence may employ them, and of render 
ing all manner of good service to God and the 
Institute. 

We also met at Aix the Superiors of Sisteron, Apt, 
and Toulon, humble and virtuous souls, but not 
possessing the useful talents of the first four. In 
returning from Provence I stopped at our house of 
Crest, where I again found very good Sisters with a 
young Mother of thirty, but of a capable mind, 
judicious and zealous. She keeps straight to the 
grand road of the Rule, " for fear," she says, " of 
going astray." She gave me great satisfaction. 
Now I am at Valence, where it appears to me the 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 229 

community is feeling somewhat the effects of having 
had young Superiors for eight years in succession; 
nevertheless they keep to the exterior observance 
and manifest an ardent desire to profit by our stay. 
I have not yet spoken with them, but I intend to do 
so. The Superior is good, gentle, capable, and 
willing, but is wanting in experience; this, please 
God, will come. These Sisters are in need of one who 
is firm and experienced. I hope, as next year will 
be that of their election, that God will look after 
them in this matter according to their needs. 

Pardon my bad writing, but I forget half I wish 
to say. We went from Marseilles to Sainte-Baume, 
a place of great devotion. 

Always your very humble, obedient, and obliged 
daughter, and servant in Our Lord. 



GI. 

To Mother Marie Agnes Le Roy, Superior of the 
Second Monastery of Paris. 

Vive >|< Jesus ! 

VALENCE, 1636. 

MY WELL-BELOVED AND DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

For this indeed you are to me in so peculiar and 
intimate a way that no dearer term can I add to it, 
and no other feeling than this loving one could my 
heart entertain towards you, seeing the way in 
which you look upon the true and solid lights and 



230 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

affections of heart that God has given you. My 
daughter, I am quite enchanted with your letter.* 
I cannot keep myself from kissing it and pressing it 
to my heart, for every word of it from beginning to 
end has deeply moved me. I shall carefully treasure 
it. Nothing else have I to say, my true daughter, 
if not that you ought, in order fully and worthily to 
correspond with such graces, to keep your heart 
firmly set on God, and casting out all that is not 
He, jealously and faithfully preserve the rare 
treasure which the divine Goodness has confided to 
your hands. Spread the good odour all you can in 
the hearts of your daughters, and may everyone 
who comes in contact with you feel that the virtues 
of the crucified and despised Saviour go out from 
you. Recommend my heart with your own to Him 
and let them be as one in His divine love. 

* This letter, which so charmed St. Jane Frances, con 
tained an account of the intimate feelings of Mother Marie 
Agnes Le Roy, when she found herself under the calumny 
spoken of in the preceding letter to the Commander de 
Sillery. To quote from her letter: " It seems to me," she 
says, " that it is a particular grace to have been chosen to 
bear this humiliation. Our Lord is so good that He gives 
me very great pleasure and contentment in it, because it 
shows His special love for me, and seeing that it has all 
happened to imprint in my heart the spirit of lowliness and 
humility I am greatly consoled and incited to redouble my 
little efforts to procure Him glory. . . . 

"Ah, my dear mother, how wise such occurrences make 
us, and what fruit they bear !" (History of the Foundation 
of the Second Monastery of Paris,) 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 231 



CII. 

To Sister Anne Louise de Marin dc Saint Michel, 
Superior at Forcalquier. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
April $th, 1637. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

May our most gentle Saviour in His goodness 
fill our souls with the merits of His holy Passion ! 
Alas ! my daughter, if you knew me such as I really 
am you would not desire many years of life for me 
in this valley of tears, but rather that God in His 
merciful goodness should soon take me to Himself. 
Still less should you think that sanctity was ripe in 
me, for truly all I can discover within my soul is very 
great poverty and misery. To speak quite in con 
fidence to you and to you alone: it has pleased the 
divine Goodness to deprive me of all light and con 
solation, and to let me be overwhelmed with dark 
ness and affliction. In a word, I am she for whom 
our good Mother has asked you to pray, and I 
beseech you to do it with all the compassionate 
affection and the loving charity which God has 
put into your heart for me. For indeed, dearest 
daughter, I am in sore need of your prayers ; no other 
desire am I conscious of save that God may hold me 
in His blessed hands and so keep me from offending 



232 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

Him. Tcdo and suffer all, for and according to His 
good pleasure, is enough for me. I tell you all quite 
openly in order that you may speak of me to the 
Heart of our divine Saviour, whom I bless and thank 
for the graces that He continues to bestow upon 
you, with the growth of that intimate realization of 
His divine presence. Oh, how precious, how glorious 
is this grace ! Yet this gift of His presence is not 
the same as His presence in the divine Sacrament, 
where His Sacred Body and Soul and Divinity all in 
the most real sense dwell with us, and remain with us 
in our miserable tabernacles until the species is 
consumed. Nevertheless in the gift of the presence 
of God this eternal Truth remains in us by essence, 
by power, and by grace, and to be conscious of this 
is an exceptional favour. You will understand this 
better by reading the books that treat of it. In the 
" Treatise of Divine Love " I think you will find it 
admirably explained. What I now tell you I have 
learnt there, or heard in sermons. Oh ! what a 
happiness for a soul to possess her God in peace, and 
to be possessed entirely by Him ! I am surprised 
that what I say contents you and gives you peace, 
but it is because our good God makes all things 
work to good for those who love Him. 

Once again I beseech of you to recommend me to 
His divine mercy, and I pray that in you He may 
perfect His rare graces. All you have to do is to 
leave yourself in the Jiands of this heavenly Wor]^- 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 233 

man, and to be very faithful in paying no heed to 
what passes in you, but always keep the eye of your 
mind fixed on God. Of a truth I desire myself to 
be very attentive to this point, but my mind is so 
restless that I am not able to do so, and this is a 
constant trouble to me. See how I give you all my 
confidence. Will you not also tell me your thoughts, 
and it will be a consolation and a profit to me, if 
God so wills. May He bless you and all your Sisters 
to whose devout prayers I recommend myself. Those 
amongst us are most blessed who long for the holy 
perfection of their vocation. Divine Providence 
when it sees well will increase their number, neither 
will it fail to provide all things necessary for the 
maintenance of those who leave themselves in its 
care and only think of conforming to its good 
pleasure. 

Believe me, always yours entirely in our Lord. 
May He be blessed. 

Palm Sunday. On this day Holy Church bids us 
sing, 

" The Saviour comes in the multitude of His mercies." 
May our souls eternally praise Him. Amen. 



234 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



cm. 

To the Abbe de Vaux.* 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1637. 

MY VERY DEAR AND VERY HON. BROTHER, 

May the sacred love of our divine Saviour be 
our eternal life ! The little preface or pretended 
excuse in your letter is not quite in keeping with the 
simple confidence with which we have resolved to 
treat each other, which I believe God desires and 
ratifies, and with the profession you make of wishing 
to live in the entire simplicity and candour of the 
Visitation spirit, which one certainly cannot but 
see in you. I bless God for it with all my heart, and 
know not how to thank Him for His infinite Goodness 
in having given such a friend to our Congregation, 
and such a support to the new plant which Providence 
has set in the garden of the church of Angers. Now 
I say all this straight out from my heart; will you 
not receive it, then, in this wise, my very dear 
brother, and unite with me in praising God, for to 
Him we owe it all. He is the sole author of all good 
things, hence should all glory be referred to Him. 

* Guy Lanier Abbe de Vaux not only put his own house 
at the disposal of the Sisters foundresses of the Visitation 
at Angers, but continued in after years to give them 
constant proofs of his paternal affection. He was one of 
the most virtuous ecclesiastics of the seventeenth century. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 235 



Your whole bearing with our Sisters is extremely 
pleasing to me. Sister Mary Euphrasia Turpin has 
a good heart, a fine intelligence, and loves the Rule, 
which I advise her closely to follow, above all in the 
guidance of her Novices. Will you not also give 
her this advice ? You will find her pliant, open, and 
easy to convince. 

We must let Mother Claire Madeleine de Pierre 
complete her three years,* and I hope by that time 
divine Providence will have provided a successor. 
It is a very serious matter in a new foundation when 
a superior is often ill, and cannot follow the common 
life. By seeking pretexts, without necessity, to dis 
pense herself, however little, from the exercises, she 
does great harm to herself and her community. She 
who ought to be a model of good example to her 
Sisters. How miserable and dangerous is this false 
liberty. May God preserve us from it ! What 
responsibility have not such superiors on their 
consciences, and what an account they will have to 
render, not only for their own faults but for those 
which have been committed in imitation of them, 
and for impeding their own perfection and that of 
those under their care. This is far-reaching, my 
dear brother, so speak of it occasionally, I beg of 
you. A true daughter of the Visitation is a great 
treasure may God give us all the grace to become 

* Each election in the Visitation Monasteries is for a 
period of three years. 



236 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

such. You do not tell me if the Sisters are still in 
your house. How good you are to them ! I pray 
God to reward you with the glorious gift of His 
eternal City. To Him you owe much for having 
given you the heart and the generous soul you 
possess, wherein there is but the one desire, to serve 
Him. Go forward, dear brother, forward, always 
advancing and increasing in the purity and perfection 
of divine love, and may God give you the grace faith 
fully to correspond to the great favours He bestows 
upon you. This is, I know, your great wish, and I 
seem to see our Blessed Father looking down upon 
you as one of His most cherished children. God 
knows how I esteem you in His sight. But alas ! 
my own poverty and misery are beyond description. 
May God diminish them for the sake of His glory. 
I trust to His Goodness and to the prayers that are 
offered for my needs. . . . 

There is no doubt that this difficulty of not being 
able to make considerations in prayer leads to a 
more simple form of prayer, and a soul thus led 
ought to adhere to this way to which God is un 
doubtedly calling her, however faint may be the 
call, and although the calm and facility of dwelling 
reverently before Him which it brings be but slight. 
Neither ought she to forsake it because of her 
indigent state nor because of her wanderings of 
mind, but remain patiently and tranquilly before 
Our Lord, not giving willing consent to distractions. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE GHANTAL 237 

but when worried by them just say from time to 
time words of submission, abandonment, confidence, 
and love of the divine will, and give up discoursing 
with the understanding; indeed it is useless to split 
our heads trying to do so, for it will be of no avail. 
The great secret of prayer is to follow our attrac 
tion and to go to it in good faith. 

A soul who wishes to live in the presence of God 
should be very faithful to the practice of virtue, to 
great purity of heart, and to an unconditional sur 
render of herself to the divine will. When she sees 
herself walking in this way she need fear nothing, 
but if she has great consolations and facilities in 
prayer without the practice of these virtues, she 
certainly ought to fear. Truly this manner of prayer 
has in its simplicity a wonderful power of leading 
souls to a total despoliation of themselves. Yet 
they usually enjoy neither relish nor sensible 

devotion. 

Yours, etc. 

CIV. 

To a great Servant of God. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
December, 1637. 
MY VERY DEAR MOTHER, 

May Our Lord fill our souls with the con 
solations and with the merits of His most holy 
Nativity. 



238 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



It is about a month since I received your letter 
^f November gih in which I read your true goodness 
and loving care of me in my never-ending trials. 
However, by the grace of God they are somewhat 
less acute than when I last wrote. At that time 
Our Lord had sent me a great sorrow in the death of 
the virtuous Mother (de Chat el), who is a serious 
loss to me. It seems as if God wishes to deprive me 
of all help both of nature and of grace. This our 
Blessed Father prophecied to me before I was a 
Religious. With all my heart I adore the most holy 
will of God, and the only good I desire is its com 
plete fulfilment. May I have the grace never to 
resist it. If it is perfectly wrought out in me how 
happy I shall be. Pray for this, dearest Mother, 
I beg of you. Strange to say, when writing to you 
I can never altogether keep back my tears, though 
otherwise I rarely weep, unless perchance when I 
reflect upon those precious virtues* of which I feel 

* The following extract from a letter of St. Francis to 
Mme. de Chantal, March 28th, 1612, tells us what these 
virtues were: he says, " But let us come to the interior trial 
which you write to me about. It is in reality a certain 
insensibility which deprives you of the enjoyment not only 
of consolations and inspirations but also of faith, hope, and 
charity. You have them all the time, and in a very good 
condition, but you do not enjoy them: in fact you are like 
an infant whose guardian takes away from him the adminis 
tration of all his goods in such sort that, while in reality all 
is his, yet he handles and seems to possess no more than 
what he requires for living, and as St. Paul says in this, 
He diflereth nothing from a servant though he be lord 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 239 

deprived, and thoughts against them rise up within 
me that are like daggers to my heart. Yet I am 
conscious that these divine treasures exist, but where 
I know not, and it seems to me that I do at least 
desire them and would willingly suffer anything in 
order to have the enjoyment of them. My mind 
pictures untold delights for souls who possess them : 
were I to dwell on this thought I should be parched 
up with sorrow, because I care for nothing in com 
parison with them. Could I be so fortunate as to 
die for Holy Church, nay, even for the least article 
of our Faith, how happy I should be; for, thank 
God, there is no point that I doubt about, though it 
seems to me that I am destitute of all faith. 

To tell you further, dearest Mother, shortly after 
my last letter to you it pleased the divine Goodness 
somewhat to relieve me of the great oppression and 
desolation from which I was then suffering, by 
giving me a sensible feeling of the divine presence. 
I have already told you that I have never been 
altogether without some slight and almost imper 
ceptible feeling of the presence of God, by which in 
the midst of a storm of troubles and temptations my 
spirit never wholly loses its tranquility, and as 
long as I maintain myself in that presence my soul 

of all things. In the same way, my dear daughter, God 
does not want you to have the management of your faith, 
your hope, or of your charity, nor to enjoy them except 
just to live, and to use them on occasions of pure necessity." 



240 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

is calm notwithstanding the piteous struggle. When 
it first pleased our Lord to give me some relief in the 
terrible temptations under which I laboured for so 
many years after I made my Vow,* I received the 
grace of a simple consciousness of His presence at 
prayer, and remaining in it I used to surrender myself 
up to Him and become absorbed and at rest in Him. 
This favour has not been withdrawn from me, not 
withstanding that by my infidelities I have often 
hindered it ; yielding to apprehensions that I should 
be useless in this state, and, wanting to do something 
on my own part, I used to spoil all. 1 am still often 
subject to this same fear, not, however, when at 
prayer, but at other exercises; 1 am always wanting 
to make acts, or to do something, and yet I feel that 
by so doing I am taking myself from my centre 
that this looking straight at God alone is the only 
remedy for me, the sole relief in all the troubles, 
temptations, and accidents of life. If I followed my 
attraction, I should certainly never seek any other 

* On September 2nd, 1604, Saint Jane Frances made a 
vow of perpetual chastity and of obedience to St. Francis 
de Sales, from this time until her death she suffered from 
temptations against Faith in varying intensity. On 
Oct. 4th of this same year (1604), St. Francis wrote to her, 
" You ask a remedy for the temptations against faith which 
assail you. Never argue with them, but do as the children 
of Israel, who threw the bones of the Paschal Lamb into 
the fire without attempting to break them," and again: 
" Oh, my daughter, it is a good sign when the enemy urges 
so vehemently from without, it is a sign he is not within." 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 241 



way than this, for when I think to fortify my soul 
by reflections and discourses, or by acts of resigna 
tion, for all of which I have to do violence to self, I 
only succeed in exposing myself to fresh troubles 
and temptations, and finding therein nought but 
dryness and dissatisfaction, I have perforce to return 
to this simple surrender to God. Apparently He 
wishes thus to show me that He desires on this 
subject a total cutting off of the activities and work 
ings of my mind, so that His activity and not mine 
should undertake the care of all. Mayhap He 
requires this of me not only on the subject of Faith 
but on all others as well, for in every trouble and in 
every spiritual exercise to look at Him is all that He 
seems to want of me, and the more unwaveringly I 
do so the better I find myself, and the quicker my 
troubles pass. But the activity of my mind is such 
that I am always in need of comfort and encourage 
ment. Alas ! my dearest Father often spoke to me 
of this. Yet recalling the past, I see that my 
sufferings at that time were not the troubles I now 
endure. Then it was only my distracted prayers 
and such-like trifles that troubled and sometimes 
deceived me, for which I am not sorry, as there was 
no real danger ; God was there, and I had only to 
keep myself steadfast to Him. But in my present 
trials I am as one always on the edge of a 
precipice. 

Our late Mother (Peronne de Chatel) was an 

16 



242 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

, . 1 r 

immense help to me, for she taught me to walk with 
simplicity, firmly and fearlessly in the presence of 
God, and that sufficed for all. The more completely 
I am stript of all sentiment, all relish, all repose in 
God, the more do I seem to gain strength and peace 
of soul, and the more clearly do I see that there is 
nothing to lean upon but God alone, purely, and 
simply. One of our Sisters* is drawn by this abso 
lute detachment to a degree that it is almost impos 
sible to surpass, and our good Mother (de Chatel) 
told me that God gave this Sister to me as an example 
to follow. She wrote at the request of our late 
Mother an account of her interior state to which I 
have added in detail. She is a soul of great virtue 
and her detachment is marvellous. Speaking of 
this, some days ago, Our Lord gave me a light so 
vivid and set it before me in a manner so luminous 
that I saw without a shadow of doubt that I must 
no longer cast my eyes upon myself about any 
thing whatsoever, nor even question my Beloved, 
but in all simplicity and repose become absorbed 
in Him. Now since thj.s day of alleviation it seems 
to me that I have kept myself more continuously 
in God s presence, and I have but seldom had 
those violent temptations only two or three 
times. 

This is, I think, all that I can give myself time to 
say at present. If I have not expressed myself well 
* Sister Anne Marie Rosset. 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 243 

to this distinguished servant of God you will not 
fail to understand me and will tell me what he 
says. 

Yours, etc. 

CV. 

To Mother Marie Aimee de Rabutin, Superior at 
Thonon. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 
October i$th, 1639. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

May God be always blessed in all things and 
may He be particularly blessed for the good health 
you tell me you enjoy, and for the care you take to 
do all that is prescribed to keep you well. I am 
sending you a box of lozenges. Take them as 
directed besides the other remedies. I beg of you 
to take them regularly, for they are sweet, not un 
pleasant, and very inexpensive. Do not, I beseech 
of you, undertake any extra fasting nor abstain more 
than you can easily manage. Continue cheerfully 
to make use of the little alleviations that are settled 
for you, and any others that your weakness may 
require, just as you would see that others did. Drink 
your wine, at least half your portion, for your wine- 
cups are very small.* Neither rise earlier nor go to 
bed later than the others, nor undertake any 
laborious work, for I know your health would not 
* These wine-cups held about two small glasses. 



244 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



stand it. Take the discipline only on Fridays. 
Possess your spirit in peace and calm, and pass gently 
through this miserable life, not taking too much to 
heart the faults of your sisters, nor their little ways 
of worrying you. Do your best amongst them, and 
leave the rest to God. Pray, and get prayers, that 
it may please God to turn the miseries and calamities 
of this world to His glory and to the salvation of His 
people, and do not forget me. If you would like me 
to write to Sister J. Antoine I will do so. However, 
she must be kept to the promises she made to me 
tell her that I have spoken to you about them and 
have asked you to let me know how she is going on. 
May God be your support. Blessed be He and His 
holy Mother. Amen. 



CVI. 

To St. Vincent de Paul at Pans. 

ON THE ARRIVAL OF THE LAZARIST FATHERS AT 
ANNECY. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1640. 
MY VERY DEAR FATHER, 

Praised be our divine Saviour who for His 
great glory and the salvation of many souls has 
brought your dear children happily here. Their 
coming is a subject of thanksgiving to Our Lord from 
everyone, but most of all from the Bishop of Geneva 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 245 

and my self , to whom it is an unbounded consolation. 
We look upon them as our true brothers, with whom, 
in simple openheartedness and confidence we are as 
one, and they too feel this. I have had a conversa 
tion with them, and truly they speak as if they were 
daughters of the Visitation. All are full of goodness 
and candour. The third and the fifth need a little 
help to get out of themselves. I shall tell their 
Superior, M. Escarts, of it. He is a Saint, and a 
man truly equal to his charge. I have given them 
each a practice of virtue. With God s help, for our 
mutual consolation and to obey you, I will always 
lovingly continue so to do, for indeed, my dear 
Father, there is much to speak of to these dear souls. 
The good Father N. has manifested his own diffi 
culties to me with the utmost simplicity. He has 
an upright heart and a good judgement, but it will 
be difficult for him to persevere. I have begged of 
him to put aside all thought of either leaving or 
staying, and to apply himself in good earnest to do 
God s work, leaving himself trustfully to His Provi 
dence. I wish he could settle down, as he is a soul 
of great promise. In fact they are all charming and 
have already given great edification in this town 
during the three or four days that they have been 
here. Their spirit is very like that of my dear and 
good Father. 



246 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



CVII. 

To Sister Claire -Marie-Franfoise de Cmance* 
at Gray. 

Vive ^ Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1640. 
MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Your letter fills me with tender compassion, 
but it also gives me very real comfort, seeing how 
joyfully God is enabling you to make your passage 

* This religious belonged to the ancient family of the 
Counts of Berghen, Champlitte, and Belvoir. At the age 
of thirteen, upon the foundation of the Monastery of 
Champlitte, she was taken there and given the title of 
Foundress. Her arrival was the signal for a great ovation. 
Cannons boomed forth their welcome, while the Magistrates 
harangued, and the people cheered her, acclaiming the great 
and good deeds of her ancestors. In this wise did the child 
enter into her new life of poverty, obedience, and chastity. 
Soon after her entrance the war between France and Spain 
obliged the Community to leave Champlitte for the little 
town of Gray. Here fresh trials awaited it; the plague 
broke out, and so awful were its ravages that the town was 
soon a veritable sepulchre. Yet none of the terrors that 
surrounded her shook the resolution of the brave child. 
Full of confidence in God she remained calm and joyful 
in the midst of unheard-of privations. 

The fame of her courage and her virtue went abroad and 
even before her profession she was the object of public 
veneration, for the people loved her and claimed her as their 
own heroine. At the age of sixteen, Sister Claire-Marie- 
Fran9oise de C usance made her solemn vows and became 
the Saint Stanislaus Kostka of the Visitation. She died 
two years after her profession, having spent those eighteen 



ST. JAxNE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 247 

through this life to Him. You will love and adore 
Him in an eternity of glory, for this is the only good 
that is worth setting our hearts upon. Here we are 
all regretting your absence, and envying you your 
happiness, but our regret and our envy are more 
than balanced by our gratitude to God who is taking 
you so mercifully to Himself. Oh ! how hard and 
long is this life for those who yearn to be with Him ! 



years of life more like an angel than a woman, and having 
enjoyed many supernatural communications. No sooner 
was her death known, than the Mayor ordered all the bells 
of the town of Gray to be tolled, on which the inhabitants 
at once announced their intention of assisting at the 
obsequies with torch-lights to honour not so much her 
birth as her high virtue. The Visitation Monastery had 
not as yet a cemetery of their own, so the religious of the 
Annunciation, at their urgent request were given the holy 
remains, which for some days they exposed to public 
veneration. Numerous were the graces obtained during 
those days by the devout inhabitants through the mediation 
of the holy nun. Her portrait was circulated in Flanders 
where [like Sceur Therese of Lisieux in our day] she was 
venerated, though not yet on the Altars of the Church. 
Fourteen days after the obsequies had been celebrated a 
religious of the Annunciation wrote to the Mother Superior 
of the Visitation at Gray. " This dear deceased is still quite 
beautiful and her body quite flexible, the veins are to be 
seen in her person as in a living body, which proves to us 
that it was truly the temple of a pure and angelic soul. 
Several persons have noticed a fragrant perfume exhaling 
from the coffin, and others have received extraordinary 
graces and interior illumination when praying beside it." 
(Taken from Vol. IX. of the "Lives of the Sisters of the 
Visitation.") 



248 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

You must do, my daughter, as your good Mother 
desires about your state of health. 

Most earnestly do I beg of you to ask God that I 
may live and die in His grace and according to His 
good pleasure. Do not refuse me this favour, and 
when you see Him do not forget to speak to Him 
about me. Be kind to me in this. 
I remain, 

Yours affectionately in His love. Amen 



CVIII. 

To Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos,* Lay Sister at 
Turin. 

Vive >J< Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1640. 
MY DAUGHTER MOST DEAR, 

Your few words explaining your interior occu 
pation have made your soul as clear to me as if it lay 
open before mine eyes. All that passes within you 
and without you is God s own work. 

Regarding your interior life, my advice is: Give 
God a free hand to do as He likes, while you look 
on in loving simplicity. And as to the exterior: 

* Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos died at Turin, in the odour 
of sanctity, November 5th, 1692. Her life was written 
under the title of " The Charm of Divine Love," and it 
possesses all the beauty of true mysticism. It is hoped 
that one day she may be raised to the Altars of the Church. 
St. Jane Frances said of her: " From the day of her pro 
fession she seemed no longer to be on earth." 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 249 

Practise virtue by making faithful use from moment 
to moment of the opportunities provided by divine 
Providence. But it is superfluous for me to offer 
advice, as the heart that is governed by God needs 
no other guidance. Beseech of Him in His goodness, 
my dear daughter, to accomplish in us His holy 
will, without let or hindrance on our part. 

Yours, etc. 

CIX. 

To the Sister Louise- Angelique de la Fayette* at the 
First Monastery of Paris. 

Vive tfa Jesus ! 

ANNECY, 1641. 

MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, 

Though not personally acquainted with you, 
none the less do I know and dearly love you. Your 
letter shows me quite clearly the state of your mind, 

* Marie-Louise Motier de la Fayette became maid of 
honour to Anne of Austria at the age of fourteen. Her 
beauty and the promise of great ability for which she was 
afterwards so remarkable attracted the King Louis XIII. 
His devotion to her which lasted all his life was that of a 
brother to a most dear sister. He turned to her in his 
troubles and relied and acted on her advice. When at the 
age of nineteen she decided to retire into the Monastery 
of the Visitation, for which she had not ceased to long during 
her short life at Court, the King opposed her vocation, but 
seeing that her happiness was bound up with it he at last 
gave his consent. Yet he never ceased to visit this devoted 
friend who continued to exercise over him a wise and 
salutary influence. Richelieu, jealous of her power with 



250 SELECTED LETTERS OF 

and the source of your trouble and embarrassment. 
It comes from your over-eagerness in seeking to 
arrive at the perfection you desire, instead of 
patiently and submissively awaiting the will of Him 
who alone can give it to you. Now if you wish 
truly to acquire the spirit of your vocation you will 
have to correct this fault, and carry out whatever 
instructions are given you, gently and faithfully, 
repressing your desires and your thoughts in order, 



the King, was sensibly relieved by her entrance into religion. 
However, hearing one day that Louis had spent three hours 
at the Rue St. Antoine with this young religious, he was 
thoroughly frightened, and sending for Pere Caussin, the 
King s confessor, he said : " I am greatly astonished that the 
King has made such a mystery to me of this visit. It has 
caused a great sensation, and the public are persuaded that 
the consequences of it will be serious. My friends have 
come to offer to defend me at the peril of their lives." 
" What can you mean, Monseigneur ?" replied the Jesuit 
Father. " Surely you do not fear Mademoiselle de la Fayette? 
she is but a child." " You are a simple man," replied the 
Cardinal, pressing the Priest s hand; "but you will have to 
learn the wickedness of the world. Know then that this 
child has had it in her mind to ruin all." 

Notwithstanding the discontent nay, even the abject 
terror of the powerful Cardinal, Louis continued his visits, 
which always took place in the grilled parlour : for although 
as King he had a right to enter the monastery he never took 
advantage of this royal privilege. 

Upon the foundation of the monastery of Chaillot, for 
which Henrietta Maria of England herself chose the house, 
Mile, de la Fayette, now Sister Louise-Angelique, was sent 
as one of the foundresses, and was elected Superior there on 
the decease of Mother L huillier. After the death of Louis 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 251 

in God s good time, to become a true Visitation nun. 
I think, if I am not mistaken, that you are not 
content simply to make acts requisite for your 
training in perfection, but you want to feel and be 
conscious that you have made them. This satisfac 
tion you should give up, and content yourself with 
saying to God without sensible feeling: " I wish with 
all my heart to perform such and such practices of 
virtue for Thy good pleasure." Then perform them 



XIII., Louis XIV., Charles II., and James II. of England, 
Anne of Austria, and Marie Therese, all continued to frequent 
the monastery in order to learn how to sanctify respec 
tively their triumphs or their misfortunes. The unfortu 
nate Queen Henrietta Maria took up her residence there. 
Mile. D Aumale, afterwards Queen of Roland, the Princess 
Louise Hollandine, daughter of Frederick V. of Bohemia 
(the champion of Protestanism in Germany) and grand 
daughter of James I. of England, were instructed by and 
lived with the nuns. Later, Marie Beatrice, widow of 
James II., lived at the monastery. Yet all this concourse 
of the great ones of the world did not tarnish the virtue nor 
dissipate the mind of that lover of solitude and of penance, 
Louise Angelique de la Fayette. She died as Superior at 
Chaillot, January nth, 1665, loved and venerated by all 
who knew her. It is little known that the world owes the 
birth of Louis XIV. to the wise advice of this holy nun, who 
pressed home upon the King his conjugal duty. 

Taken from, firstly, the original manuscript letter of Pere 
Caussin, S. J., to Sister de la Fayette, found amongst her 
papers after her death; secondly, from the memoirs of 
Mme. de Motteville, a personal friend of Sister de la Fayette; 
thirdly, from the History of Louis XIII., by P. Griff et, who 
had recourse to the memoir of Pere Caussin for these inci 
dents. 



252 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



although with dryness and wish for nothing better 
than in this manner lovingly to serve Him. If you 
do this you will soon find yourself in possession of 
that calm and holy peace so necessary to souls who 
desire to live by the spirit, and not according to 
their own views and inclinations. Your repose and 
spiritual advancement depend, I can see, on these 
things. May God fill you with Himself and give you 
the grace to practice all that is taught you by her to 
whose guidance He has committed you. 

I am affectionately yours. 

CX. 

To Madame the Duchess de Montmorency (nee des 
Ursins).* 

Vive >|< Jesus ! 

MOULINS, 
igth June, 1641. 

MY VERY HONOURED AND VERY DEAR MADAME, 
AND BY DIVINE GRACE OUR TRUE AND 

BELOVED SISTER, 

I bless and thank our good God for enabling 
you so courageously to show forth the power of His 
divine Love. Your entrance into Religion will be 
for His greater glory and for the happiness of our 

* When becoming a postulant at the Visitation, the 
Duchess de Montmorency wished not only to renounce her 
titles of nobility, but also to change her baptismal name of 
Marie-Felice, a custom which was not usual at that time. 
She was named Marie after Marie de Medicis, and Felice 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 253 

little Congregation. O my dearest Sister, My well 
beloved of God, with what overflowing consolation 
you have rilled my soul ! I have just received your 
letter, which has been a long time on the road, and 
I now write in haste not to lose the opportunity of 
this messenger who goes direct to Lyons, as I am 
anxious to tell you that I consider that in no way 
have I now either the strength or the capacity to 
undertake the superiorship of any of our monas 
teries. 

The Bishop and our Sisters, the latter very un 
willingly, have partly consented not to have me 
re-elected here. Still, I assure you if his Lordship 
gives me an obedience to go to you I do not think I 
could possibly have a command more to my liking, 
and I pray God if this is His will that He may inspire 
the Bishop to send me. It would be an immense 
consolation to me to give the veil to one so full of 
desire as you are to revive the true spirit of our 
Blessed Father. May our good God complete in 
you the high perfection which He has so gloriously 
begun. 

I am most truly your poor humble and unworthy 
servant in Our Lord, etc. 

after her maternal uncle Felix Peretti (Pope Sixtus the 
Fifth). At her clothing she dropped these names and was 
from henceforth only known as Sister M. Heariette. She 
became Superior at Moulins some years after the death ol 
St. Jane Frances. 



254 SELECTED LETTERS OF 



CXI. 

To a Novice. 

Vive ^ Jesus! 

{Undated.} 

MY VERY GOOD AND DEAR BROTHER, 

I have been absent for four weeks, and only 
yesterday on my return received your letter. It 
gave me, I assure you, very great consolation, and 
I am full of gratitude to the God of divine goodness 
for His mercies to you. The evil spirit cannot give 
this attraction you speak of; he draws us away from 
good. On the other hand, our loving Saviour sheds 
His perfume in our hearts, so that young souls may 
be drawn to follow Him by the sweetness of His 
odour. 

Rejoice, then, in this grace with great humility, 
rny dearest brother, and by means of it grow stronger 
in your vocation and in the practice of all virtue, 
above all in that of self-renunciation, so that you 
may advance in union of soul with God. Give your 
self wholly into His hands. That done, have no 
fear of the evil spirit but of God alone, for, having 
quitted all things and yourself in your desire to 
belong to Him, Satan can do you no harm. Go 
forward quite simply, ruminating but little. The 
affection I feel for you, as a mother for her son, 



ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL 255 

draws from me these words of advice, but I know 
the best counsel is not wanting to you where you are. 
May God lead you Himself to the height of perfection 
to which He has called you, and always keep you 
within His holy hand. I never forget to ask this 
of His Goodness. Neither do you forget me when 
speaking to Him. 

Believe me, I am, and always will be, 

Your most affectionate, etc. 



Printed in E 



BX 4700 .C56 A413 1918 SMC 
Chantal , Jeanne-Francoise de 
Selected letters of Saint 
Jane Frances de Chantal 
47080274